What an amazing treat it was Friday night to take in the Santana show at Casino Rama. We’re talking about one of music’s icons, and premiere guitarists. I felt very fortunate to have had the opportunity to photograph and review this performance. Right from the opening bars of Soul Sacrifice, we were all captivated by the sweet and unmistakable sounds of Carlos Santana’s guitar playing. He has a tone and style like no other, and when he sauntered onto the stage, with his sparkling gold guitar and wearing his fedora, the jammed packed theatre rose up and greeted Carlos and his 10 piece band.
This is a big production show. They filled the stage with guitars, bass, horn section, 3 percussionists, organ/keys, vocalists and of course the man himself front and centre. This band is as tight as it gets, and they flawlessly executed each and every song of the two hour set. Yes, two hours of Santana! There was a little talking between songs, but not too much. At one point, Carlos urged us (the world) to just be better. To persevere and also referred to the “rainbow”. “Black and white and gray is fine” he said, “but this, this rainbow” (spreading his arms and gesturing to the crowd and in my mind implying a multicultural existence of inclusiveness). And isn’t that what his music brings? Different origins, different sounds. Different people from around the world. Friday night brought such sweet music played by a very culturally diverse set of musicians. Ah, how happy this makes you feel. And man, music is so healing, so uplifting. You just couldn’t help but enjoy what you were seeing and hearing. Heavy latin sounds, rock undertones, blues and even a little jazz and funk at times.
Cindy Blackman Santana is one lady who can hit those drums as hard as anyone I’ve seen and performed a killer drum solo. Cindy was accompanied by two more percussionists which gave some great backline punch often trading off beats. Anthony Vargas nailed it on vocals, with such a soulful voice, and Dave Matthews on keys and the Hammond was as cool as they come, wearing his deep black shades all evening. This band just had fun. Pure and simple. So many of the songs seemed to just keep rolling as if forever. I felt like it was one big two hour jam session, and I loved it. Everyone got to showcase their talents and the crowd was appreciative of the effort.
Standouts for me were Maria Maria and Evil Ways. These are a couple of my favourite Santana numbers. Carlos even took the time to sign autographs during another of my faves, Oye Como Va. Then, during Europa, Carlos was making his guitar really sing, so I took a moment to look around. Everyone was simply mesmerized and totally held captive by the music. Magic! And minutes later, the band ramped it up and got everyone jumping and bopping in time. Everyone literally felt the music. Sitting near an exit after the show, I listened for comments as people filed out. And there was not one single negative word spoken about this concert.
No evil ways here, it was purely and simply a night of classic Santana.