Review and Photos by Darren Eagles

 

The lights go down.  Eleven virtuoso musicians take the stage.  Then comes the introduction of percussion and drums, then bass and the monster sonic wall of a vintage Leslie speaker and Hammond B3, followed by Carlos Santana’s iconic guitar sound, and we are off on a journey spanning over 45 years of musical genius.

The set began in 1969 with 3 tracks off of Santana’s debut album, with “Soul Sacrifice”, “Jingo” and “Evil Ways”.  Then, wasting no time, he teleported us to February of this year when he released his latest masterpiece, Santana IV, and moved through a pair of tracks, “Love Makes The World Go ‘Round” and “Freedom in Your Mind”.  The years between those two releases showed that Santana has the power of pure musicianship at his disposal and still has the ability to bring the fiesta to the table.

Santana has his formula for musical success etched in stone.  His fretboard work is legendary, using more than all of the neck at will.  Striking the classic guitar poses, and shredding the hell out of his gold PRS, Santana looked like his 1969 self on stage, trading licks with his guitarist Tommy Anthony, directing keyboardist extraordinaire David K. Mathews and working the room with his trio of drummers.  Karl Perazzo on the cocktail kit and every other skinned shell they could fit around him never stopped and even pulled Spanish vocal duty during the encore jam.  Paoli Mejias manned the congas on opposite side of the stage and gave the signature Santana Latin vibe we all know and love. Centre stage was Cindy Blackman (Santana), strapped into the main drum kit.  She was a monster in every sense of the drummer’s word.  Santana’s music is steeped heavily in all things percussion.  And this trio nailed it, resulting in fans across many generations dancing in the aisles to the infectious grooves.  Santana addressed the crowd a few times throughout the show, most notably referring to

Karl Perazzo on the cocktail kit and every other skinned shell they could fit around him never stopped and even pulled Spanish vocal duty during the encore jam.  Paoli Mejias manned the congas on opposite side of the stage and gave the signature Santana Latin vibe we all know and love. Centre stage was Cindy Blackman (Santana), strapped into the main drum kit.  She was a monster in every sense of the drummer’s word.  Santana’s music is steeped heavily in all things percussion.  And this trio nailed it, resulting in fans across many generations dancing in the aisles to the infectious grooves.  Santana addressed the crowd a few times throughout the show, most notably referring to Prince’s death, “Our hearts are hurting, I knew the man, and he’d want us to party”.

Bill Ortiz on trumpet and Jeff Cressman on trombone added the icing on this musical cake inserting those “Tower of Power” styled accents in just the right spots. While Santana has an instrumental centric vibe in most of his songs, when vocals were required, Ray Greene and Andy Vargas traded and collaborated their considerable vocal talent and gave the songs their energetic and passionate flair.   During the band introduction part of the show during the encore, Santana introduced bassist Benny Reitveld as the bandleader, the conductor and it was clear he leaned on Reitveld’s talents in keeping the group on track.

After playing their mega-hit “Smooth” at the beginning of the encore, the band played  “Toussaint L’Overture” but they extended it into a 25-minute jam, inserting snippets of Jimi Hendrix and George Harrison among others into the mix.  Nearing the end, the band left the stage leaving Reitveld and Blackman alone to treat us to a killer bass and drum solo.  Then Reidveld conceded, left the stage, and Blackman gave a punishing pure drum solo.

The band returned for a final group bow, shook hands with the fans in front and signed autographs for a few minutes to close out the 1 hour and 50-minute show.

 

Click on photos to enlarge and scroll through gallery:

 

Setlist:

 

Soul Sacrifice

Jingo

Evil Ways

Love Makes the World Go ‘Round

Freedom in Your Mind

Maria Maria

Foo Foo

Choo Choo / Get On Board

Corazón Espinado

Europa

Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen

Oye como va

 

Encore:

Smooth

Toussaint L’Overture