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Taken from Scotsman.com News (July 2, 2009)

Gig review: Michael Franti and Spearhead


by Dave Pollock

Michael FrantiFROM beginnings in a hardcore punk band and then the influential political rap group Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, Michael Franti's most long-lived project, Spearhead (15 years and counting), has seen a softening in the the singer and guitarist's musical approach – sizeable sections of this show were unashamedly cheesy.

While the tall, dreadlocked Franti has renounced youthful polemic to a large degree, however, his songs are still revolutionary in their honest pleading for people just to get on with each other and show a little more love. It's Franti's smiling sincerity – and his comforting, soulful voice – that push what might otherwise be nadirs of corniness into the territory of the acceptably heartwarming. When he described I Got Love For Ya as having been written for his 21-year-old son as he set off on a road trip from San Francisco to New York, or finished a sweet cover of the Jackson 5's I'll Be There by musing that "Michael Jackson taught us to be as bright and beautiful as we can be", his hippyish enthusiasm became strangely infectious.

From Everybody Ona Move to the house-flavoured Sound System and his most recent, biggest hit Say Hey (I Love You), Franti and his band blended rock, hip-hop, reggae and afrobeat – although possibly the most crowd-pleasing moment was the plucking of a pale, shirt-off fan called Adam from the crowd to play a convincing riff from AC/DC's Back in Black, chasing away thoughts of the night's other big show. A guilty pleasure, but a pleasure nonetheless.


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