Spearhead (House of Blues; 1,000 capacity; $ 20) Presented inhouse. Band: Michael Franti, Trinna Simmons, David James, Oneida James, Carl Young, Armond Livingston, Tony Moses, Invisible Man. Reviewed May 6, 1997. Regardless of the hip-hop direction taken by half the tracks on Spearhead's second Capitol disc, "Chocolate Supa Highway," Michael Franti and his ace band direct their assortment of dramas and melodies to a core audience of college radio listeners, reggae buffs and rap intelligentsia. Spearhead is on the money meshing the smoother tunes from both discs, delivering an uncompromising concert of tight ' 70s-infused soul, reggae rhythms and socially aware rap. For the first 40 minutes of last week's show, Oakland's Spearhead established themselves as a Sly and the Family Stone for the '90s: slightly funky, wide-eyed one moment and half-dazed the next, danceable and thought-provoking. Singing rappers Franti and Trinna Simmons duel and romance each other with a feverish pointedness; their drop-dead tight four-piece band handles nuance like few others in contemporary R&B. Yet it's the charismatic and tall Franti who breaks down the wall between audience and performer despite the disarming nature of his lyrics. At their most heartwarming, Franti and Simmons play a joint Simple Simon as an emancipator, each call being met with enthusiastic response from the racially mixed House of Blues crowd. Franti, one of rap's great wordsmiths with a delivery, range and concerns that often recall the '70s poet/singer Gil ScottHeron, and Spearhead are a vital entity in a world outside the borders of the hip-hop nation --- they bore an insider's view through walls of separatism, attracting an imbalance of attention from the outsiders. As much as this is mainstream music, it remains alternative rap for the rock world. --- Phil Gallo

Spearhead (House of Blues; 1,000 capacity; $ 20) Presented inhouse. Band: Michael Franti, Trinna Simmons, David James, Oneida James, Carl Young, Armond Livingston, Tony Moses, Invisible Man. Reviewed May 6, 1997. Regardless of the hip-hop direction taken by half the tracks on Spearhead’s second Capitol disc, “Chocolate Supa Highway,” Michael Franti and his ace band direct their assortment of dramas and melodies to a core audience of college radio listeners, reggae buffs and rap intelligentsia. Spearhead is on the money meshing the smoother tunes from both discs, delivering an uncompromising concert of tight ‘ 70s-infused soul, reggae rhythms and socially aware rap. For the first 40 minutes of last week’s show, Oakland’s Spearhead established themselves as a Sly and the Family Stone for the ’90s: slightly funky, wide-eyed one moment and half-dazed the next, danceable and thought-provoking. Singing rappers Franti and Trinna Simmons duel and romance each other with a feverish pointedness; their drop-dead tight four-piece band handles nuance like few others in contemporary R&B. Yet it’s the charismatic and tall Franti who breaks down the wall between audience and performer despite the disarming nature of his lyrics. At their most heartwarming, Franti and Simmons play a joint Simple Simon as an emancipator, each call being met with enthusiastic response from the racially mixed House of Blues crowd. Franti, one of rap’s great wordsmiths with a delivery, range and concerns that often recall the ’70s poet/singer Gil ScottHeron, and Spearhead are a vital entity in a world outside the borders of the hip-hop nation — they bore an insider’s view through walls of separatism, attracting an imbalance of attention from the outsiders. As much as this is mainstream music, it remains alternative rap for the rock world. — Phil Gallo

Spearhead

House of Blues; 1,000 capacity; $20

Production

Presented inhouse.

Crew

Reviewed May 6, 1997.

Cast

Band: Michael Franti, Trinna Simmons, David James, Oneida James, Carl Young, Armond Livingston, Tony Moses, Invisible Man.
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