Michael Franti appears to be something of an institution in Australia, possessing a modicum of popularity in most of the world but verging on something else on our far flung shores, acting like a shaman and appointed leader for the current or reformed hippies, crusties and ferrals. It takes a rare talent and presence to grasp the crowd in the palm of your hand and inspire them into singing along with every word you utter, to have them clapping and dancing to every beat from the opening notes and first word of your first song, and appropriately, that first word was 'hello' in several languages. To then keep the vast majority of the crowd hanging on to every word you say, responding to every local reference, dancing and screaming on demand and spontaneously for the entire set in some kind of cult-like fervor with hidden subconscious messages flowing through the crowd is an even larger achievement, Michael Franti manages it with the greatest of ease and this is only an acoustic set!The set is bursting with simple and effective songs about peace, love and understanding, covering politics, community and harmony, no-one is left out, every race and subculture is mentioned for good measure in Franti's rapid fire lyrics, perfect topics for a full-to-the-brim venue on the seaside with the evening feeling a little like a holiday camp with Michael Franti as chief red coat leading proceedings.Some would accuse Michael Franti of verging on the cheesy side and of producing the occasional cringe on the more discerning music fan's face. Cast your aspersions and cynicisms aside, for a performer who produces such warm fuzzy feel good feelings, for a performer that creates music that makes everyone feel good and leave their problems aside, Michael Franti can't be faulted.
Published in Inpress