Steve Winwood with Michael Franti & Spearhead Concert Review – Nashville, TN – The Woods at Fontanel Amphitheater – 5/18/2012
Posted On 6/1/2012
On Friday May 18th 2012, Steve Winwood with special guests Michael Franti & Spearhead rocked the Sold-Out amphiteater, The Woods at Fontanel, for a Radner Lake Fundraiser. Concert Blast was invited to cover this event so Mike Arnold made his way down to the celebration to take photos and review the concert. Enjoy the review!
Written by Mike Arnold
Steve Winwood brought out his classic hits from Blind Faith, Traffic as well as his solo career. Steve and his band also showed the talent of the perfect pitch from each instrument and Steve’s vocals. Michael Franti displayed good songs and his energetic fun performance skills. The combination of the two different type of performances made for a great night of music under the stars at one of Nashville’s newest venues, The Woods at Fontanel.
At about 7pm Michael Franti & Spearhead took the stage to get this crowd into his music. The 46 year old was very energetic and refused to allow people to sit down during his performance. In fact most of the night Michael not only had people on their feet, but with their arms in the air clapping along. It didn’t take Michael Franti long at all to get people into the show as he performed his version of Steve Miller’s “The Joker“. When the majority of the audience is not that familiar with the artist’s music, the best thing to do is to perform a cover song to get the crowd into the show.
“The Sound of Sunshine” is one of Michael Franti’s songs I was familiar with and enjoyed very much, but what made it exceptional was that he ran out into the crowd during this number. He didn’t just run out to stand in a spot for a while and return, but he perform throughout different areas of the venue as he continued to walk through the audience. He spotted me taking his picture, he smiled and walked right toward me and down our row as I clicked away on the camera… and move out of his way! Michael would return to the stage to perform a few more songs and then return to the crowd again for another performance. He started a song in the crowd and asked for thoughts and prayers for his dad who was recovering from heart surgery. By the end of the song Michael was back on the stage and said, “I Love ya pops!”.
Michael Franti & Spearhead performed an excellent show and I would love to see them perform again. I judge my favorite artists by how well they perform in concert and Michael Franti & Spearhead won me over on this night… especially when he and the guitarist walked out into the crowd after his show was over to talk with the fans, sign autographs, and take pictures with those who requested it. On the Concert Blast Scale I would give Michael Franti & Spearhead a 9.0. The only reason it wasn’t higher is because I wasn’t that familiar with his music, but I will be now!
After about a 30 minute intermission, the stage was set for Steve Winwood. The band members were on and off the stage throughout the setup to check on their gear, then all of a sudden I saw Steve Winwood slowly walk up to his Hammond B-3 organ. The band took their places on stage, the music through the PA system stopped and the band began to crank the tunes. To the delight of the long-time Steve Winwood fans, the opening number was the Spencer Davis Group’s hit, “I’m a Man“. The song’s transgression into the next was very smooth as they continued without stopping into a number from Steve Winwood’s 2008 release, Nine Lives, “Fly“. The songs flowed without stopping most of the night as they continued with another song from the same album, “At Times We Do Forget”.
It was after the third song before the 64 year old Steve Winwood stood up and spoke to those in attendance. Steve walked to the center of the stage and said it was good to be home again. He said his hellos and thanked everyone for being there to support Radner Lake. Steve’s band consisted of guitarist José Neto, percussionist Café da Silva, drummer Richard Bailey, and multi-instrumentalist Paul Booth (who out-played everyone on stage that evening). Paul Booth played saxaphone most of the night, but on “At Times We Do Forget” he shined on the flute. This was the time I noticed the bass sounds were coming from the keyboard.
While Steve was front and center stage, he decided to pick up his guitar while Paul Booth went to play Steve’s Hammond B-3 (as he did throughout the night when Steve played guitar). The band broke into one of the favorite crowd pleasing songs of the night, the Blind Faith hit, “Can’t Find my Way Home“. With Steve still on guitar, the band followed up with another number from Nine Lives, “Dirty City“. Steve returned to the keyboards while the band slowly introduced a much recognized and one of my favorite Traffic songs, “Low Spark of High Heeled Boys“. Another Traffic tune continued the show as the band transitioned into the song, “Empty Pages“. Backing musician Paul Booth began playing the tamborine before switching to the flute on “Pearly Queen“.
It was time once again for another Traffic song. It was unfortunate that Steve Winwood would allow one song take 30% of the show’s time. During “Light Up or Leave Me Alone” every person on stage had their moment in the spotlight with an instrumental break. This jam session lasted twenty-five minutes. I must say that although I didn’t care for the band spending so much time on one song, the crowd seem to love it. Each instrumental break received a loud applause from the crowd.
To close the set, Steve Winwood pulled out a solo hit as they performed a terrific sounding “Higher Love“. Steve and the band waved a quick goodnight and left the stage. The crowd demanded an encore and that is just what they got. This was my favorite part of the show as well as receiving the approval from about 5,000 others while Steve Winwood shined on the guitar while the band began the huge Traffic hit, “Dear Mr. Fantasy“. To close the night, Steve went back to the Hammond B-3 to perform another Spencer Davis Group hit, “Gimmie Some Lovin’“.
The musicianship was superb, but the setlist selection had a lot to be desired. As I mentioned earlier, “Light Up” was 15 to 20 minutes too long. If the song had been performed without all the instrumental solos, there would have been time for the songs they left out, “Roll With It”, “Back in the High Life Again”, “Valerie”, and others. I would not see Steve Winwood in concert again without approving the setlist first. As for the Concert Blast scale, I would have to give this show a 8.0.
Written by Mike Arnold
I’m A Man
At Times We Do Forget
Can’t Find My Way Home
The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys
Light Up Or Leave Me Alone
Dear Mr. Fantasy
Gimme Some Lovin
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Tags: Blind Faith, blog, Café da Silva, classic rock, concert blast, concert review, José Neto, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Mike Arnold, Nashville, Paul Booth, Richard Bailey, Steve Winwood, The Woods Amphitheater at Fontanel, TN, Traffic