Michael Franti has been on my list of artists to see before I die for a while now. Probably about a month after his last tour. :) I don't own an album, and I only know a handful of songs, but I find the man inspiring, and by all accounts his shows are amazing.
So I jumped on the opportunity to see him at the Enmore, and got tickets for the front section of the dance floor - if you're going for the experience, you want to be in the thick of it. Tim, a friend of mine, came with me and made the excellent suggestion of finding ourselves a spot on the right hand side of the stage. There we camped, and there we were when Cherine Anderson came out. What a voice. She was singing to recorded music, but her amazing voice and stage presence over-rode it.
I have to admit, I missed the beginning of Spearhead, because I was buying beer. I didn't really need the beer that badly, but the queues were long, and you know how it is when you've committed yourself to a course of action...
Anyway, by the time I got back, every part of the dance floor was sardines, except our nice little spot in front of the stage. Very pleasant. There is no way you can watch Michael Franti and not smile. Or avoid dancing. Both happen whether you like it or not. He loves what he does, his smile is overwhelmingly infectious. A friend of mine has told me on several occasions that she would leave behind her life with women to have Michael Franti's babies. After seeing him sing "All I Want Is You" with Cherine Anderson, I no longer doubt her integrity on that point.
A couple of weeks ago I heard Dr Karl talking about how music is used in all cultures as something of an emotional state reboot. By listening to music together, our brains all find themselves in the same mood state - must have been highly adaptive in helping men come back from the hunt all testosterone laden and then chill out and interact peacefully with the group. I was just thinking how incredibly effective Franti's music was at this (during "Everyone Deserves Music"), when he stopped for a chat. He spoke about a letter he received in Brisbane from a woman whose 21 year old daughter had had a stroke, and was capable only of tiny movements of her head. Of course, he went to see her (wouldn't have been much of a story otherwise), and he sang a few songs for her, kissed her on the forehead and placed his finger on her lips. She moved her lips to kiss him - the first time she had moved them since the stroke 7 or 8 weeks ago. She can now move her left hand a little, and everyone in that room is desperately hoping she makes a dramatic recovery. I know I wasn't the only one crying. Whatever Michael Franti wants you to feel, you feel it. Good thing he uses this power for good.
Nearly 2 and a half hours of music, with only a change of clothing - no pretence of encore. The band left the stage with an established chant going, and were back before the audience even thought of getting bored. I love that. I also love the smell of marijuana. I think they should legalise it so that I can use it as incense. I wonder if anyone has ever made that argument before.
I notice I've written all this, and barely mentioned the music. It's not really my style, but they are clearly damn good at it. Michael Franti might be an imposing personality, but he is fronting a very talented band who successfully carried me off into the moment without my having a great deal of appreciation for much of the musical style. I actually enjoyed "Pass the Dutchie", which says a lot for them. I was definitely a rock chick in a foreign land, but Michael Franti and Spearhead made me feel so welcome, I was only aware of it some of the time. I may never own a Spearhead album, but I doubt I'll miss another gig.