A slight rain scare wasn’t enough to dampen the spirits of all the rebel rockers and lovers in Eugene, Oregon. After delaying the doors for an extra hour, the people and positive vibrations still poured into the Cuthbert on Wednesday, June 26th for the ultimate reggae show.
Ziggy Marley and Michael Franti are currently on a co-headlining summer tour, and the mixture of audiences couldn’t be happier. With fans of Franti devoted to “staying human,” and Ziggy’s practicing love as their religion, the result is one of the most positively inspiring concerts ever attended.
Ziggy, all smiles, started off with some new music from his latest record, Rebellion Rises, then surprised the crowd by jumping into his father’s smash hit, “Jammin’.” “World Revolution” followed and the theme of fighting political injustice persisted. After “See Dem Fake Leaders,” Ziggy extended “Justice” into another Bob Marley hit, “Get Up Stand Up,” equipped with an improvised spoken word section about human rights regardless of race, religion, or origin. The entire set was a beautiful blend of Ziggy’s originals and his dad’s favorites. After “One Love,” he took the time to appreciate the outdoor venue and praise mother nature. “I would never leave her for another planet,” he said and made his point by playing “I Don’t Wanna Live on Mars.” He finished his set with some more of his staples such as “Love is My Religion” and “Wild and Free” (minus Woody Harrelson, of course). Then, his final tune was “Look Who’s Dancing Now,” which was the breakout number for his lovely backup singers. After they strutted their stuff for the crowd, the band cleared the stage for Franti.
A sea of jumping peace signs can always be found at a Michael Franti show. Attending one of his concerts is not far from running a marathon. While performing, Michael makes it known that he wants to see everyone having a good time, and encourages jumping multiple times per song. Even if jumping isn’t your bag, it feels right at a Franti show. The audience is one with each other much in the way a family or tribe dances together. And if you’re not grooving, Michael might just come find you in the crowd and single you out with love until you do. He comes prepared with a wireless headset and instrument mic to spend almost half of the show performing in the grass throughout the field of fans.
Franti’s music lends itself so well to the sunny months with songs like “Summertime,” “It’s Good to Be Alive Today,” and “Sound of Sunshine,” the latter of which was sung in part by an adorable little girl from the front row. Another one of his genuinely friendly quirks is his love of bringing kids on stage. After an entire evening of immersing himself in the audience, Franti returned the favor and, as is tradition, led a group of ecstatic children onto the stage to help him perform his final two songs of the evening, “Say Hey (I Love You)” and “When The Sun Begins to Shine.” The second of the two is a newer track from Stay Human Vol. II, that is so sincere it could very well be a new nursery rhyme or classic lullaby. After such a satisfyingly warm show, some loving mothers and fathers may very well have sung their children to sleep with it that evening.