Review: Michael Franti and Spearhead bring ageless energy to the Ritz Ybor
When this extraordinarily healthy 43-year-old takes the stage, he emanates a vibe that is upbeat, vibrant, fast-paced and infectious. The result is a unique musical experience which is as much exercise class as it is a concert.
Nothing demonstrates this more than Wednesday night’s show at the Ritz Ybor, during which Franti forced a handful of media photographers to chase him and his Spearhead band mates around the stage for 10 minutes. At one point, he even leaped off the stage in his bare feet and continued to sing while perched on a security barricade.
At the conclusion of a 3-song photography limit, a small group of obviously unhealthy and out-of-shape photographers retreated to the back of the theater in search of a place to rest. Thanks, Michael, I got the message.
As for the musical portion of the evening, Franti and Spearhead hit the stage with Love Don’t Want followed by The Thing That Helps Me Get Through and Rude Boys Back in Town.
Franti has commented on his blog that using a wireless, headset microphone allows him the freedom to move around while playing guitar, but that he dislikes the way it looks and it continually slips off. Apparently he chose to abandon this technology for Wednesday’s show. During his performance from atop the security barrier, Franti played guitar and sang into a microphone held in place by a member of his crew.
An opening set by London-based modern pop group One Eskimo kicked off the evening with a much calmer, laid-back sound. While everyone enjoyed the music, it did nothing to prepare us for the impending onslaught of Franti and company.
-- Review/photos by Jeff O'Kelley, tbt*