All the Freaky People Make the Beauty of the World

On a normal Tuesday night, I’d be training with the Hyde Park Harriers. Of course, I enjoy the camaraderie as well as the training. I could use some more work as I didn’t run as well as I should have in the ParkRun on Saturday. Anyway, as you might have figured, yesterday wasn’t a normal Tuesday night –  I went to Manchester to see Michael Franti and Spearhead.

I’m not sure what term I’d use to describe my level of MFSH fandom. I have several of their albums but not either of their last two. However, I’ve seen them perform live in Brooklyn, Brussels, Philadelphia, New Jersey and Philadelphia. Unfortunately, the last time was in October 2010 so when I saw that they were coming to the UK this month, I was excited but unsure if I would be able to make any of the shows (They’re also performing in Glasgow, London and Birmingham). Fortunately, all my lectures are finished so I could wiggle a night in Manchester around working on my last assignment of this semester – and better yet, tickets were only £19.

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Where I found myself yesterday

Anyway, after a relatively cheap bus ride and a 30-minute walk to the Manchester Academy (which is actually located in the Student’s Union on the University of Manchester campus), I found a massive queue which told me I was at the right venue but shocked me because I didn’t think so many people were coming to see MFSH. As it turns out, that queue was for some band named Pentatonix, who was also performing at the Manchester Academy.

The Manchester Academy actually contains three concert halls, and good acts have come to the building recently – or acts I would liked to have seen, such as De La Soul and the John Butler Trio. If only I had known they were coming to Manchester. Actually, the concert hall where MFSH were performing seemed as a big as a phone booth – compared to some of the venues they could be playing in.

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The song list

As for the show, it was actually strange in a sense – there was no opening act. Not that I am complaining about that. Anyway, as evidenced above, someone taped a set list to the floor and being so close to the stage, I could see what songs they would be performing. Or said they would be performing – they ended up not doing “Hello Bonjour”.

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The man and his band

But fortunately for me, they did a lot of older songs as I’m not totally familiar with their newer stuff. An awesome thing about a MFSH show is that it’s better than a normal concert – it really is a big party. I was surprised at how small the setting was, but it worked to everyone’s advantage because pretty much everyone could reach out and touch him. I was able to high five him (or maybe “side five” him early in the show). And occasionally during the show, Michael Franti would jump off stage and mingle with the audience while performing a song.

Michael Franti again...

Michael Franti again…

Bassist Carl Young

Bassist Carl Young

Be careful!!!

Be careful!!!

Of course, you never know what to expect at an MFSH concert. Much to my surprise, a volleyball game broke out! During “Sound of Sunshine,” someone brought out several gigantic balloons and he punched them out for everyone in the audience to play around with them. I’m actually not sure if Michael Franti was on stage when everyone was playing volleyball. Some of his bandmates were on stage during the giant volleyball session so it might have been a tiny bit dangerous (not that a huge balloon would cause them harm).

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I wish this wasn’t so blurry

There was a serious side to the show. Michael did touch on the events in Nigeria – which appropriate because his drummer, Manas, is a native of that country – before doing “Have a Little Faith.” Actually, it was a bit uncertain if MFSH would be conducting this European tour. I had read on social media that his younger song Ade (rhymes with the singer Sade) has been diagnosed with a kidney disorder. I figured he would mention the condition of his son at some point during the show. Sure enough he did, and he mentioned Ade might require a kidney transplant. Michael told the audience he asked Ade should he cancel the tour and stay with him but Ade told him to perform because his music makes so many people happy. I am obviously hoping and praying for his son’s health but I am so glad he came to the UK. MFSH then played a song Michael wrote for Ade.

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I got my picture with him

Eventually, the party resumed 🙂 Sometimes, at a concert, I take notes of the set list but this was not the night. It was a night to dance 🙂 Michael mentioned that after the encore, he’ll sometimes jam with bandmates backstage. But they brought the post-show party to the stage which ended the night on a high. He took time to take pictures with everyone who wanted and obviously, I was getting my picture.

Now, I have to eventually listen to the MFSH albums I haven’t.

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