BY STEVE DAY
ADELAIDE — On March 8, San Francisco-based group Spearhead treated punters to a very special performance that will stick in the minds of many for a while to come. The charismatic Michael Franti hosted an evening of hip hop, funk, reggae and soul with incredible heart and respect for all. He encouraged everyone to stand up for their civil liberties and human rights.
The set started very rhythmically. The staggering stage presence and depth of musical talent was felt immediately and continued throughout Spearhead's mammoth three and a quarter hour show.
Those of the crowd who were not familiar with Franti's spoken-word pieces were introduced to the inspiring political and humane beliefs that Spearhead, and Franti, so passionately uphold.
Franti spoke quietly yet strongly over his acoustic guitar about the September 11 attacks in the US. He proudly proclaimed that he and Spearhead are part of the "official" 12% that polls show are opposed the US bombing of Afghanistan. The audience responded very positively to the comments. Franti also held up a "Free the refugees" sticker.
The group improvised and extended many of the favourites — "Oh my God", "Rock the Nation" and "Freaky". But it was "Soulshine" that seemed to steal the night. Spearhead's transformation of Queen's "Another one bites the dust" into "Another one smokes the bud" gained much audience appreciation.
If the music didn't shake you, the poetry of Franti's lyrics did. Where much contemporary political music tends to point fingers and induce (much called for) anger among listeners, Spearhead challenge their audience to look within as well as to work together to love, respect and appreciate what a beautiful planet we have.
From Green Left Weekly, March 27, 2002.
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