Show Review: Michael Franti & Spearhead, Alanis Morissette (Power To The Peaceful 2009), Speedway Meadow at Golden Gate Park, 9/12/2009

by Dakin Hardwick on September 13, 2009

It was, indeed, an all ages show.

It was, indeed, an all ages show.

Michael Franti has been putting on the Power To The Peaceful festival every year since 1999, and it has always been the middle weekend in September. It’s a fun event that combines social activism and music, and is headlined by Franti every year. It’s also free. And seems to get bigger every year.  This year gave us The Honey Brothers, Sly & Robbie, Alanis Morissette, and, of course, Franti and his band Spearhead.

I missed The Honey Brothers, but since I am here to serve you, I will provide you with a review of the show they played later that night. As for the legendary rhythm team Sly & Robbie, well, we can blame the traffic on Fulton for me missing them. For those who aren’t aware, they are the most famous production team to come out of Jamaica. Some artists they’ve worked with are Black Uhuru, Peter Tosh, Serge Gainsbourg, No Doubt and Bob Dylan. They are true legends, and I am sad that I missed them.

I did make it on time to see Alanis Morissette.

alanis 2

She played acoustically, accompanied by a guitarist and a keyboardist. Her voice was in perfect form, and despite the guitar giving out a few times during the first song, it was some of the best sound I have ever heard in Golden Gate Park.  The hardcore fans were out in full force, primarily because this was the her only tour date this year, anywhere. People were entranced, silent during the performance, but louder than a Jonas Brothers show between songs. She was seriously feeling the energy, and apologized for her lack of playing live. She seemed to miss it, and I hope this means that Alanis the thespian will be put on hold to have Alanis the musician back.

I was surprised by the sheer number of hits she has under her belt. During the second half of the set, she took to letting the audience sing, and entire mid-song verses were sung without prompting. “Ironic” didn’t need Alanis at all.

Here’s the setlist, which I did not steal, but cribbed on a piece of paper during the set.

You Learn
Hands Clean
Hand in My Pocket
So Pure
Head Over Feet
Thank You

Michael Franti & Spearhead came out of the gate with super high energy. He had vocalist Cherine Anderson from Sly & Robbie’s band on hand for back up vocals, and played a really good, consistent hour’s worth of music.


For the unfamiliar, Spearhead do a blend of reggae, ska, pop, punk, and just a hint of jam band music that’s very accessible. I’ve always been surprised that they have yet to crossover to the mainstream, but this year marks their first genuine top forty hit, Say Hey (I Love You), which is awesome for them, but also created a very different crowd. I haven’t seen this many teenage girls at a show in ages!  Plus, they knew the lyrics to nearly everything!

A couple of scattered highlights included a brief cover of “Billie Jean” complete with Franti moonwalking and members of Sly & Robbie’s band randomly coming on stage throughout the set, including their great horns section. Sly & Robbie themselves came out to replace Spearhead’s rhythm section to do a cover of The Temptations “Get Ready” that was regga-fied, but also significantly perkier than the original.

They ended the set by bringing out two older audience members to sit in:


Neither of them could actually play guitar, so he told them that he would show them how to play the song. He showed them a bit, then the sound guy blasted “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and the two audience members played along quite nicely.  He ended the show by playing the big top 40 hit mentioned earlier. He brought up a bunch of kids from the crowd to dance and sing along. After the song, the band went down to the barrier to hand out trash bags, requesting that we pick up trash on the way out, which of course we did!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

S. September 13, 2009 at 10:28 pm

“Who am I to be Blue” is actually a song called “Offer,” it’s from her 2002 DVD/CD “Feast on Scraps.” Thank you so much for your review!!! Glad you enjoyed it.


Gordon Elgart September 14, 2009 at 6:32 am

Thanks for letting us know! I corrected it in the post. You get a Spinning Platters gold star!


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