Call me Russ L

You Can’t Win ‘Em All

Posted in Music by Russ L on 17 September, 2006

To The Academy 2 on Thursday the 31st of August to see Michael Franti & Spearhead, and there were mixed feelings a-plenty. As any fule kno, Franti is a great man who has travelled to many places most of us would be scared to go in order to practise what he preaches (or preach what he practises, depending on how you look at it), as well as having made some absolutely amazing music with his previous outfit The Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy. I was aware (before you start) that his current vehicle aren’t in the least bit like TDHOH. I’ll admit that I’m not overly familiar with Spearhead’s music, but I have heard a few songs (the amazingly amazing “Rock The Nation” and a few more I forget as a result of them not really grabbing me) and so I did know of the stylistic differences. We’re basically looking at a pop-reggae band here, with only the occasional nod towards hip-hop.

The change, of course, seems to be at all levels. The degree to which Franti’s accent has altered from the deep stentorian voice of his earlier days really would have led me to assume it was a different person if I didn’t happen to know otherwise. These pop-reggae songs we spoke of… well, some of them are OK, some of them weren’t (that “Hello Hello” tune had a sweet enough sentiment but good lord was it nauseating to listen to), but all of them were dragged out to run about three times longer than necessary by processions of endless solos, jamming, call and response sections, chorus repeats, more jamming…

“Rock The Nation” blew the roof off the place, of course, but I didn’t really particularly enjoy anything at all other than that. It’s funny, really – although I’m not (for a second) suggesting that artists have to stand still and carry on doing whatever initially made them their name even if they don’t want to any more, the fact remains that former glories are always going to be in peoples’ minds. If this had been a band I’d never heard of before I still wouldn’t have liked ‘em, but I wouldn’t have felt anywhere near as disappointed. For Michael Franti’s music to be reduced to such platitudinous pointlessness really felt like a shame.

On top of all that, they had the partition wall thing between the Academy 2 and the main Academy’s balcony erected. WHY? It doesn’t seem to make any noticeable difference to the sound, and only serves to trap the heat in a smaller space. On a hot summer night this is near torture. We all know Carling Academy venues treat their clientele with contempt, but this goes well beyond that and into the realms of outright hostility.

~ Russ L, not impressed with this gig at all.

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