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Taken from The Calgary Herald (Aug 30, 2011) --> read here
Taken from The Edmonton Journal (Aug 31, 2011) --> read here
Taken from The Edmonton Sun (Aug 31, 2011) --> read here
Taken from The StarPhoenix (Sep 01, 2011) --> read here

Santana thrills fans of sizzling solos at Dome

by Mike Bell, Calgary Herald

Carlos Santana at one of his showsThe night of the solo. That’s how any evening with Carlos Santana should be billed. An evening of stunning musicianship, immaculate skill, phenomenal playing and showroom esthetics. Entertainment? ...

... Openers Michael Franti and Spearhead, a biannual (every second year definition) Calgary folk fest fave, put on the same feel-good, Up With People, multicultural set this city has become used to from them.

A happy, shiny, bubbly, good vibration, hooray for humanity (kill me now) mix of reggae, hip-hop, folk-pop positivity, Franti and band were a light, refreshing way to start the evening, but one that — yes, if you were a cynical, sour human being whose soul was cold, dark and dead inside — wore thin at pretty much the exact moment the song The Sound of Sunshine kicked off and the yellow beach balls began being batted between concertgoers.

No, there’s nothing wrong with what he does and how well he does it — he’s upbeat, works the room, and got many of the unfamiliar Santana fans bouncing along to his melodic songs, bringing some of them onstage to dance for his final number — but, for someone who’s seen what he has to offer on more than two or three occasions, it all seems a little contrived, and a little of Franti’s sunny disposition certainly goes a long way.

Review: Santana’s nostalgia script still sizzles

by Tom Murray,Special to The Journal, edmontonjournal.com

“Tell me about this Santana,” commanded my cab driver as he transported me to Rexall Place...

...As for opener Michael Franti and Spearhead? It’s impossible for me to say a bad word about the man who blew my mind with his band The Beatnigs back in the late ’80s. He seems to be through here every other month touring a light version of himself as a kind of genial, Up With People perennial opener for everyone else, winning more and more fans through dint of sheer hard work.

Good luck to him on that score, though it would be nice to see a bit of the old Franti glint through now and again.

Santana puts on eclectic concert

by Mike Ross,Edmonton Sun

Weirdest. Cover band. Ever.

And Carlos Santana isn't getting any easier to understand in his old age -- at least in live concerts, which are completely different animals than his commercial, star-studded and pedestrian recent albums...

...Michael Franti has to be the poster boy for positive vibrations. His opening set was also quite amazing -- as he is every time he comes to Edmonton (he even lived here for a year when he was a kid). As he and his band Spearhead performed, shredding musical genres at will -- soul, rap, funk, soca, rock 'n' roll, you name it -- the empty decades fell away. It's as if he's the embodiment of the peace 'n' love-spouting hippie idealist from the '60s who never grew old or bitter or abandoned his principles. Oozing joy from every pore, Franti leapt around in his bare feet, strolled through the arena, hugging people, high-fiving the fans, as he sang one happy, shiny song after another. "Every drop of water is holy water," he sang. Then came the Sound of Sunshine -- cue the release of the giant yellow balloons. He urged aid for Africa and reminded everyone that we are, each in our own way, special. The set ended with a stage full of dancing audience members and a full-on island-gospel rave up and a simple sentiment: "I Love You."

A cynical person might find this sort of thing sickening if it wasn't so over-the-top. It was impossible not to get caught up in this joyous enthusiasm, evidenced by the crowd brought to its feet several times. You don't that with an opening act at a Baby Boomer concert every day. Of course, Michael Franti and Spearhead is no ordinary opening act.

Santana dazzles Saskatoon

by Cam Fuller, The StarPhoenix

He put a spell on Saskatoon, baby.

Carlos Santana staged an eye-popping - and maybe hip-popping - show at Credit Union Centre Wednesday night...

...It was inspiring watching Michael Franti and Spearhead win over the crowd in the opening slot. The raprock-reggae fusion artist from San Francisco used the power of positive vibes to banish inhibitions from the room. Only a few fans stood at first. Within 10 minutes, the barefoot Franti was singing The Sound of Sunshine and walking up and down the rows, followed like the Pied Piper by dancing admirers and his videographer while big yellow balls being batted about. And then everybody was standing and smiling.

With its catchy call-andresponse songs like Say Hey (I Love You) and Hey Hey Hey --no one said it was complicated --and irrepressible positivity, Franti's show is like Sesame Street for adults. By the end, he had a bunch of people on stage, from kids to a retirement aged gent in jeans and suspenders, all just dancing for joy. In a tired, broken world, he's beacon of musical hope.




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