Michael Franti & Spearhead @ Nokia Theater Times Square


Artist-Michael Franti and Spearhead
Band Members-Michael Franti-vocals/guitar
Carl young-bass
Dave Shul-guitar
Manas Itiene-Drums
Raliegh Neal-Keys

band website-http://www.myspace.com/spearheadvibrations

Venue:Nokia Theater(Times Square)
City,State-New York City,New York


By Sean Morse

Most people that go out to see live music are doing it to realx,have a good time, and just forget about the stressors of daily life. When you go see a Michael Franti and Spearhead show you get that feeling and a multitude of more feelings. It is an experience you should try at least once in your lifetime.

Michael Franti is a political activist for issues concerning social justice. He is quick to bring a tear of joy,sadness,contentment,anger,and many more feelings when you see him live. Saturday night at the Nokia Theater was no exception. The opening band was a marvelous sound straight from the outback of Australia known as Blue King Brown. They jammed out to some incredible tunes with phenomenal energy
flying thru the sold out Nokia Theater in Times Square. I wasn’t able to catch any of the names of their songs but everyone caught my soul with eclectic energy and beautiful beats. They seem to be an up and comer that is on fast track for success in the international world of music. They are a must see. If you enjoy Soul, Afrobeat,and Roots music then it is imperative that you give this band a listen. Go to their myspace

After the phenomenal set by Blue King Brown there was a short break. This was at about 9pm. The sold out and excited crowd in the heart of New York City was ready for the group they came to see. But before they were ready to come rock new york city like never before two people had a few words to say on stage. A mother and father of an Iraqi war vet that were part of a group(I didn’t catch the name) spoke a bit about how they
like many military families struggled every day with the fact that their son might not come home from the war. They went on to tell us how they were one of the lucky ones to have their son return from duty safely. They said many military families that were not so lucky are now in a constant state of grief due to the current state of the world. After the mother finished speaking it was the fathers turn. He said a few words and ended with saying the powerful Spearhead title song “POWER TO THE PEACEFUL”. Support the Troops!

At about 9:15pm you could see band members Carl Young(bass),Dave Shoul(guitar),Manas Itiene(drums),and Raliegh Neal(keys) making their way into their spots on the dimly lit stage. At the same time you could hear Michael Franti backstage freestyling a mellow rhyme and taking the concert off it’s feet. He was in the words of Carl Young “taking us to a whole another mental level”. If you weren’t ready to get emotional at this point then you never would be.
Michael and the boys began to blast out classic songs from Bob Marley like “Get up,Stand Up”(tease) and “I shot the Sheriff”(tease). Soon later Spearhead went into their hit songs such as Yell Fire,”Everyone deserves music”,”Rock the nation”,and my personal favorite “Lies,Lies, Lies”. “Lies,Lies,Lies” is song about having a your girlfriend lie to you about the suffering around the world. It also brings up points about having problems with “your bank account being too full” and “hoping that the taxman lost his way”. This song is so special to my heart because I often feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders. “Lies,Lies,Lies” offers you the chance to pretend that “the whole is wonderful” and perfect and everyone lives in peace and harmony. It’s a fantastic fantasy but probably not realistic. But who is to blame us for dreaming about it right?

Sean with Michael Franti

The Nokia Theater is a capacity of 2,100 but even though it was sold out my date Dani and I were able to make it all the way down to the general admission area right in front on the left side of the stage. At certain points Michael was looking right in our eyes while giving off such positive energy. We were on the position of the stage where guitarist Dave Shul was stationed and he provided incredible jams,riffs, and licks that proved how dynamic of a guitarist he is. I’m so happy he is in this band. At one point he did something I thought was really cool. He was using his corona bottle as a finger slider and going up and down the fretboard while picking away with his other hand. It sounded almost as good as when he was playing normally. The fun part was seeing Carl Young come over and look over Dave’s shoulder in admiration while the crowd cheered
in enjoyment. Carl Young is the man too. What a duo!!

Some of Michael and Spearheads new songs are called “I know I’m not alone” and “Time to come home”. He played these songs with dignity and honor resulting in tears not only from me but also
from others in the crowd. “I know I’m not alone” is a title track to Michael’s movie about his journey into Iraq,Gaza,Israel and etc. He went there about a year or so ago to find and talk to the people of these countries and see how they were feeling about the war. This movie is a must see. He also manages to find good music in this region and play in the street for children,in hospitals,and even for U.S. Troops serving in Iraq. Many of them enjoyed Michael’s company and most said that the only thing they would like is to “come home”. You can purchase the movie at the following links……

Michael went on to calm things down a bit after getting everybody jumping and having a blast. He went into acoustic songs and talked about some of his experiences. Dani and I walked back to the merch table during the last song where after the show Michael was singing autographs and taking pictures. We got in line and when he finished playing but the line got a bit out of control. However, security did a good job getting it organized despite complaints from disgruntled ticket holders. It’s not easy being security but these guys did a great clean up job and everyone got their chance to visit briefly with Michael. It’s truly special when an artist decides that they are going to brave a meet and greet before or after the show. It gives the concertgoer a chance to buy merchandise and have them sign it and even sometimes take pictures with them. Michael is a man of the people and he was going to make sure everyone got their chance. Thank you Michael for being you. We love you for it.

This was probably the best show I’ve seen all year and definitely the best one I’ve seen at Nokia. I’d like to thank AEG Live for opening this new venue a couple years ago. Nokia has great national and regional acts perform there and I feel privileged to have seen two shows there.
On the ride home I felt truly blessed. I really feel someone likes me in the spiritual world to have such great opportunities like this one. Thanks Michael and Spearhead,Blue King Brown,Nokia, and all of the spearits. Power to the peaceful!!!!