As the familiar concert smoke flooded the ceiling region of Vancouver's beautiful "Commodore Ballroom," Xavier Rudd delved deeper into his amazing set. The Darwin born Australian one-man band stunned all in attendance, serving as the opening act. Rudd performed one of the best truly solo sets I've seen, utilizing three digereedos, several guitars of different variations, a harmonica suspended around his throat, a kick drum by his left foot and a microphone for his voice. Rudd affirmed the meaning of the word "independent."
Leaving the stage, Rudd was called back for an encore joined by Michael Franti and his percussianist, Roberto Quintana. The trio performed a cover of Bob Marley's classic "No Woman, No Cry" engaging every man in the audience to sing along.
Having heard the odd Michael Franti and Spearhead recording every now and again, I can't say I was that blown away or enthralled. The music I heard seemed simplistic, and I failed to pay real attention to the lyrics. However, when you're the "Plus One" at a concert, your feelings can certainly change.
I had no clue what to expect as I stood amongst a very diverse crowd of people, with ages ranging from barely being able to legally drink, all the way up to having one foot in the grave. Immediately I assumed that the music had more merit than what previous listens had led me to believe. As the tall, dreadlock covered Michael Franti took his place on the stage, with Spearhead clambering over and adorning their instruments, I braced myself... I ended up blown away.
The ensemble on stage had such a strong command over their material and their audience, that you could not help but go with the vibe they created and enjoy yourself. Tracks which I'd briefly familiarized myself with prior to the show, were brought to life in a completely unexpected and refreshing manner, causing even myself to "get down." The group eloquently performed "We Don't Mind," (which was perfectly lit to help enhance the mood) "Everybody Deserves Music," "Never Too Late," "Sometimes" and "What I Be" to name but a few.
Keeping with what he's known for, during intermissions Franti expressed his political opinion, stating that "If the Red Sox can win for the first time since 1918, I'm sure we can have that nice little senator from Massachusetts take the Presidency!" The crowd met that with roaring support.
The show closed with a lengthy encore that included another performance of "Everybody Deserves Music" with Xavier Rudd involved. If you've not heard Michael Franti and Spearhead's music before, I would suggest attending his live show before purchasing their recordings. The added charge that the live performance adds is simply intoxicating and is guaranteed to leave a nostalgic and better devloped feel when you listen to their recordings. Michael Franti and Spearhead - definitely worth your money and time.
* All photos taken by Hugo Lunny. Not to be reproduced without discussed consent.