Michael Franti wants you to celebrate life during his performances. After a four show run in Colorado in the beginning of June, Franti made every performance a life affirming event. I attended the Fox Theater and the Red Rocks shows (and I am still recovering).
Despite having issues with a wireless headset at the Fox Theater, Franti immersed himself into the audience throughout the night. He danced and sang with almost everyone in the 625-capacity theater. If you wanted an interaction with the six-feet six-inch musician, it was easy to catch him since he made his way around to almost every nook and cranny of the venue.
He did return to the stage with his band Spearhead and played a few acoustic numbers. His new guitar player Claudio Urdaneta (his third show with the band), bass player Carl Young, drummer Manas Itene, and keyboard player Mike Blankenship’s incredible playing allowed Franti to keep leaping back into the audience.
After a two and half-hour performance, Frani stayed and took a selfie with anyone that didn’t get an opportunity during the show (I was exhausted just watching him). However, his Red Rocks performance two days later would top it.
The Red Rocks Amphitheatre setlist was similar to the Fox Theater, but the performance was more electric. Instead of making it to the back of the room like he did two nights prior, Franti ran up the steps of the 10,000-capacity legendary venue to get up close and personal.
There was a second stage set up behind the soundboard putting Michael Franti and Spearhead in the middle of the crowd. Franti was enthusiastic about the songs from his new album Follow Your Heart (released the day before the Red Rocks performance). It got to number two on the iTunes Pop Charts right behind Harry Styles. The songs are full of positivity and hope during times of strife. He danced with someone wearing a panda head (not my first choice of concert apparel).
Brighter Day – by Michael Franti
Don’t give up when your pride is bruised and
Don’t give up when you fear you’re losin’
Don’t give up in your darkest hour
Cause you got that power
Don’t give up when you feel divided
Don’t give up I’ll be by your side unbroken
I’m still hopin’
With my heart open
For a brighter day
Franti promotes optimism. It’s something that we all need as we crawl out of these dark times. And just like one of Franti’s new song proclaims, People Need People. The crowd left feeling like they just witnessed a revival meeting, a motivational speaker, and an aerobics class.
Cleveland, Ohio funk band Tropidelic opened for the Fox Theater show. Their high energy playing was infectious. The highlight was when they brought out bass drums and a tuba to the party. Galatic was the opening band for Red Rocks. The twenty-five-year New Orleans band was thrilled to be performing for the Red Rocks audience. Front-person Anjelika “Jelly” Joseph, who was a contestant on American Idol in 2015, floored the crowd her powerhouse vocals. The two supporting bands were a perfect choice to support the Follow Your Heart Tour.
See you at the next show. I’ll be the one dancing with a panda.