Michael Franti and Spearhead
February 14, 2009
Valentine’s Day in Cincinnati, Ohio came with a treat in 2009, a return engagement at Bogarts with Michael Franti and Spearhead. Adding vocalist Cherine Anderson to the mix made it extra special, and the ensemble had the audience in the palm of their hands from the beginning.
Concentrating heavily on All Rebel Rockers, the new(er) stellar reggae-based recording produced by studio wizards Sly & Robbie, Franti and co. stormed the stage, and pounded out a consistent rhythm. Leaning heavily on Carl Young’s frenetic bass work and Manas Itene’s muscular beats on percussion, Spearhead kept timed movements in rapid succession while their adoring throng shouted aloud, and the spinning dancers took control over the back of Bogarts’ floor.
Giving fans an education in reggae’s history, they covered the Musical Youth number "Pass the Duchie" that originally appeared as "Pass the Coochie" by The Mighty Diamonds. Raliegh Neal’s keyboard lines shimmered on "I Got Love For You, " and Franti and Anderson collided on the evening’s gem, a slow burning take on "All I Want is You." Guitarist Dave Shul invited fan participation on the celebratory number, "Hey World." And, Franti sat center stage with acoustic guitar to serenade the capacity crowd during "Nobody Right Nobody Wrong."
Spearhead kept the dub vibrations loose and rocking while Franti, the master of ceremonies, stood tall invoking Peter Tosh on their cover of "Don’t Look Back," which sandwiched in a call and response of the Grateful Dead’s "Casey Jones." The gyrating, sweaty denizens on the floor cheered as the band left the stage, and darkness lit up the backdrop’s neon boombox/cassette diagrams. Returning to encore with the radio friendly composition, "Say Hey (I Love You)," Michael Franti and Spearhead delivered a vibrantly positive and musically engaging experience for all, aimed straight towards the heart and soul.