Carlos Santana is a legend …
There is no denying ‘ Santana’ will go into the history books under several categories. Trailblazer, guitar player extraordinaire, hippie and humanitarian. Only a few of the labels the sixty-eight year old Mexican has earned with hard work.
Montreal ( specifically the Bell Center) received a visit from ‘the legend’ last night and judging from the looks of sheer awe on most of the audience’s faces – legendary may be an understatement. After all, how often does a performer from the original Woodstock Festival pop by for ‘ a chat ‘?
Visions of Woodstock on the big screen and in selected memories greeted the first solo of the evening during an opening jam titled Woodstock Intro.
The ‘older’ Santana looking up at his younger self. The ‘younger‘ Santana looking down on the elder Carlos. Placing riffs where they belonged during last night’s setlist and then seamlessly matching the notes with the on – screen movements at Woodstock. The entire introduction heartwarming for the grandparents in attendance and a history lesson for their kids and grandkids.
Immense rhythm started things off. What else would anyone expect from a band whose frontman defined the addition of Rock n Roll with Latin grooves?
Cindy Blackburn Santana (Carlos’ wife on drums), Karl Perazzo (percussion),Paoli Mejías ( percussion) and Benny Rietveld (bass) held the frame hard from the beginning during the tune Saideira. Allowing the engine to idle, rev and speed into other worlds. Placing the most hardened critic in attendance at ease. Regardless of Carlos’ inability to play as intense as his yester- year, the band ( kids) are alright.
Love Makes the World Go ‘Round and Freedom in Your Mind set the table for the appetizers on Santana’s menu. Witnessing Santana live is akin to listening to his comeback album Supernatural which featured Carlos dueting with everyone.
Like the album, the guitarist adds riffs at opportune moments while extended solos are brilliant yet few and far between. Unlike the album, a ‘live’ Santana uses the stage to voice his opinions. Whether it is giving shout-outs to legends passed such as John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley or rightly pointing out how fear is used as a tool to scare people, Santana’s message through music and words is love, joy and realism.
” We are here to dance, after all we are not lip synching this shit. Dance like a dog shakes off water.’ – Santana
The popular ‘Maria Maria’ ( Supernatural) superceded Carols’ words with familiarity. His guitar piercing through the joyous and sultry chorus and words from the ‘second best’ tune off Santana’s last great album. The song also introduced the pure vocal talents of Andy Vargas and Ray Green. A pair of gems entrenched in talent. Dancing, singing and punctuating a monster band.
If the bass guitar was not picked out like a crook in a police line -up in the first forty-five minutes, Benny Rietveld etched his signature during Foo Foo and Spartacus. Popping with accuracy and gleaming with soul, Rietveld dug his name even deeper within a memorable trilogy. She’s Not There (The Zombies), Marbles (McLaughlin) and Put Your Lights On was the tipping of the scales. The point of no return as Benny and the rest of the band hit their groove and then some …
Santana’s Wah Wah peddle within Rod Argent’s and Colin Blundstone’s masterpiece ‘ She’s Not There’ – enough to define the song as a Santana original. Former Tower of Power keyboardist Dave K Mathews creating the bed on which Carlos could lay.
Jin-go-lo-ba was brilliant.
Not only did the tune set up the upcoming ‘Evil Ways’ and the Coltrane classic ‘ Love Supreme’,
Jin-go-lo-ba presented an opportunity for both Cindy and Benny to shine. Benny on Bass and Cindy on drums, each took center stage. Blackman placing all drummers in her pocket with a hair-raising solo. Quick as a cat and slow as a snail. Santana’s wife the equivalent of Mrs. Neil Peart.
Everything came to a head with Corazón espinado. A showcase for vocals, horns, percussion and guitar. No band should sound this tight. No band is as one as Carlos Santana’s band. Green especially displaying his wares in a riveting trumpet duel with
Bill Ortiz. The pair trading riffs as easily as secrets.
Carlos and Dave K Mathews took the spotlight.
Mathews channeling every piano player in the history of music as the two musicians grabbed the reins in the John Lee Hooker / Santana collaboration Chill Out (Sácalo). An old fashioned Blues Boogie Woogie number painted predominantly in typical Hooker fashion. Riffs were exchanged as Santana challenged Mathews at every turn. The piano player answering firmly. The keyboardist challenging back with Santana’s consent and expertise.
Carlos closed the night.
With a touch of the Stones’ ‘Paint It Black’ embedded in the foreplay of Black Magic Woman, the crowd and Carlos were primed for the home run trot. As pure as the vinyl with less guitar work, ‘Woman’ managed to please the masses and ease into Gypsy Queen. The latter infected with so much talent from the players on stage, it’s a wonder the Quebec language police did not step in and stop the crime.
Oye como va, the classic Latin groove in Santana’s arsenal had the Bell Center on it’s feet. Familiarity breeds contempt. In this case, Smooth was the offspring as Santana’s biggest commercial collaboration and encore ended the evening with success.
Much like Santana’s career, the encore ended weaker than the show. A shadow of the talent and grooves that made Carlos Santana a legend. A reflection of the ever changing face of the music business.
A reflection of the ever-changing Santana.
- Highlight – Cindy Blackman Santana drum solo
- Lowlight – Did not play Samba Pa Ti