"'I want to see a world that's clean,
like Bangkok," Carlos announced. 'There were a few audible gasps. though."'
Carlos was clearly being sarcastic as he added, "well, it's clean in here!"
Ageless Santana lights up the sky
The first stop on a tour will have its bumps, but you forgive Carlos anything when his guitar hits your heart
Carlos Santana, his blazing guitar lighting the high road for a powerful 10piece band, beamed into town on Tuesday night from his parallel universe, a place where no one ages, Woodstock is still going on, love dethrones dictators and Bangkok is somehow "clean".
It was a great two-hour show, though far from flawless. After an impeccable first leg of extremely tight, turn-on-a-dime arrangements and sinuous, compelling guitar work by Carlos, the engine very nearly came off the rails. This was the first stop on the Asia-Australia tour, and the band has a few issues to work out.
Try telling that to the fans in the near-sellout crowd at Impact Arena who were up dancing, many of them crammed into the centre aisle on the floor. When security tried to turn them back early on, Carlos said let 'em in. Toward the end he let them surge right up to the stage.
"So many beautiful ladies here - what the heck!" declared Santana, newly remarried in December. "I said to the band, you guys are really blessed!"
Then, "Ladies, this is for you", and the lucky guys swept into the sultry "Maria Maria" from "Supernatural", the Grammies' best rock album of 1996, as its steamy video was screened behind them.
I had a mysterious craving for enchiladas, then remembered that Carlos has a chain of Mexican restaurants in the US called Maria Maria.
Funny thing about the dancing. There weren't that many people on their feet to begin with. The show started with the pensive "Lord's Prayer" and "Yaleo", then built up momentum through a string of "Singing Winds Crying Beasts", the familiar thrill of "Black Magic Woman" and a lovely "Gypsy Queen".
Carlos was gradually asserting his authority, dipping into Hendrix's "Third Stone from the Sun" at one point, and leaning on the whammy bar. Even by "Oye Como Va", though, not everything was in place, plenty of flourishes but nothing sustained.
Then, somewhere in "Foo Foo" or "Corazon Espinado" came the shout "Stand up!" And instantly, most of the audience stood up, as though they'd been just simmering for the invitation.
It was indeed a Simon Says moment, followed by calls to "Jump!" (eagerly obeyed) and "Kiss your girlfriend, kiss your boyfriend!" (abject shyness there).
Certainly no one was sitting down for the ancient Santana track "Jingo", which was accompanied by videos of African tribes in jubilant celebration. The visuals and layered rhythms underscored Carlos' unwavering devotion to World Music, but the night still belonged to Latin rock.
The band members took turns being sensational, demonstrating why other top artists compete for their assistance.
On percussion, Karl Perazzo and Raul Rekow were kinetic and riveting. But drummer Dennis Chambers showed who was boss with a 10minute solo during which he had everyone laughing as he revealed how effortless it is to maintain a punishing bottom line with multiple cascades and fills while chewing gum, blowing bubbles, towelling off and having a nice drink of water.
Bassist Benny Rietveld, Dutch by birth, took over the next 10 minutes, filling the hall with full orchestration for four strings.
David K Mathews coaxed every available mood from piano, Hammond organ and synths in several remarkable solos through the evening, and thrusting in some tasty brass were trumpeter Bill Ortiz and trombonist Jeff Cressman.
Out front with terrific vocals and almost constantly in motion were Andy Vargas and Tony Lindsay, who get full credit for stirring up the audience. But it was only when rhythm guitarist Tommy Anthony stepped up to sing the endlessly covered Zombies classic "She's Not There" that the crowd got a little berserk. Maybe they're all big fans of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" too - Anthony sang the film's closing theme.
For most spectators, you go into a Santana show knowing none of these guys, but everyone turns out to be a real somebody, and that was the message behind one of Carlos' pep talks on Tuesday. "If you remember anything significant tonight, remember this," he said at the end of "Love Supreme". "You are significant, you are meaningful, and you can make a difference in the world.
"There are two things in your DNA - light and love," he assured us, then got everyone repeating it (well, not everyone). "Light and love. Light and love. Light and love."
It used to feel all right when Bob Marley did stuff like this, but Marley never followed that with, "Okay, now just the women ... Now just the men."
When Santana plays from the heart, it's an entirely different spirit-lifting story.
"Europa" seems to have replaced "Samba Pa Ti" as the lilting guitar dream of choice lately. Set to a gentle shimmy, his playing was beautifully fluid, as ageless as he seems to be. The song could have done without another spoken address, this one namedropping Egypt and Libya and the Beatles, calling for compassion and "education".
"I want to see a world that's clean, like Bangkok," Carlos announced. There were a few audible gasps.
Santana's latest album is "Guitar Heaven", which is all covers of other people's classics. For Bangkok he played Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love", less than two weeks after Eric Clapton stood on the same stage and, sadly, did not play it. Carlos' version was both homage to and diversion from Clapton's style, but ill advised.
The next tune proved that he should probably stick to his own turf. "Smooth" was more of the commercial jettrash that wins Grammy Awards, but the swing is undeniable and the beat infectious. Everyone is Latino when this music is playing.
Santana was by now fully recovered from the nasty tumble the show took earlier when another guitarist came onstage for a couple of songs. He looked like he'd fallen out of a retrostylist's shop with a 1970s perm and the frozen stare of a deer in the headlights. He had mic trouble and didn't seem to catch his cues.
I wondered if it was some local player who'd won a contest to appear with Santana or something. But no, Mason Ruffner is a veteran showman from Texas who's performed with Bob Dylan, U2, Jimmy Page and Ringo Starr. And he wrote the song he played with Carlos, "Angel Love".
Ruffner eventually fired up some cracking lead guitar, with the emphasis on showman, but whether he wasn't quite ready for this tour or hadn't had a chance to rehearse yet, the segment was wholly out of control.
All was forgiven by the encore. The audience's enthusiastic clapping for more melded into the tin-pot-banging racket of the rain chant from Woodstock, broadcast on the big screens. Then there was Carlos, 22 years old, playing "Soul Sacrifice" in front of half a million people.
And then there was Carlos, 63, playing it again before our eyes, to the thunderous joy of his global tribe. Paul Dorsey Nation
Then there's this Post review! Too wordy, trying to be too clever.
Santana sizzles on the stage
On a throbbing Tuesday night Carlos Santana proved, once again, with the zest that would shadow you for days like an implacable voodoo spell, that in the age of downloadable tunes and artificial iGigs, live music is the only way music should be heard, experienced, received. Primal screams, drum battles, rhythmic exuberance _ it was at once a possession and exorcism, flowing through the endless melodies that began slightly after 8:30pm and released you nearly three hours later. With a tremor.
Santana, 63, has aged but his music hasn't. His Bangkok stop on the Guitar Heaven 2011 World Tour delivered the same seismic salsa rock as when he showed up to thrill us in 1994, 1996 (when the magnificent Karl Perazzo poured water on his percussive instruments and beat the living daylights out of them) and 2003. The Tuesday gig paraded a tableau of vintage Santana and post-Supernatural pop/rock superhits, and the tribal exhilaration mated with jam-session spectacles. At times the sonic trip was near-overload, but the energy was so infectious that you allowed yourself to be sucked into that temporary cosmos.
After the first two medleys of Lord's Prayer/Yaleo, followed by Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen, the bewitched members of the audience _ some advancing fast towards the state of grandfatherhood _ poured into the middle aisle and started shaking their feet. Immediately when the first chords of Oye Como Va was sound, and when joy flowed into Maria Maria, Foo Foo, and Corazon Espinado, the world forgot all its sorrows (at least for a few minutes) and music seemed to be all that mattered.
The dazzling musicianship is what makes Santana such a joy to watch. We don't have to pour more superlatives on Carlos' guitar-romping, which rained fire and brimstones all over the dull concrete slabs of Impact Arena and turned it into a resonant temple. But watch Raul Rekow, the maestro of congas, Dennis Chambers, the big man on drums, Benny Rietveld, the bass magician, and of course Karl Perazzo on timbales _ each got a chance to squeeze and screech and pump and bang and work their instruments to the limit.
In Jingo, midpoint in the concert, these crazy guys transformed into witch doctors _ like the African tribal rites shown on the giant screen behind them _ who took it as their pleasurable duty to mesmerise the complicit crowd.
There was a therapeutic lull in the middle, when Santana traded a soft, bluesy solo with guest guitarist Mason Ruffner. Early on, he mentioned the transformation in Egypt and Lybia, and here the die-hard hippy made this strange comment about how clean Bangkok was (wouldn't he save that for Singapore in a few days?) before embarking into Europa. Then the band picked up the beat and launched into the final section with She's Not There _ sung smoothly by Tommy Anthony _ followed by Evil Ways and Love Supreme.
When Eric Clapton came two weeks ago, he didn't play Sunshine of Your Love, so Santana fulfilled that void, sizzlingly, like a Mexican alligator on the prowl, before the audience erupted into wild dance again with Smooth and Dame Tu Amor.
We weren't exhausted _ and neither were they. Whether you're a devoted fan or a curious tag-a-long, Santana is inspiring because you can feel his unfazed passion and the fire that refuses to go away after 42 years of performing.
The encore, then, was a Woodstock affair, leading with the anthemic Soul Sacrifice; the screen accompanied this with footage of the wiry Carlos in 1969, as he transformed Latin rock into a psychedelic expedition, followed by Bridegroom, Into the Night, and finally Freedom.
The concert was wrapped, but the melody lingered, and the genesis of "Light and Love" than Santana talked about (well, some giggled) proved to be true.
Here's a lesson that taught us to stop worrying and learn to love music, real music, live music, once again. Kong Rithdee
- Posts: 33
- Joined: Tue Jan 11, 2011 11:12 pm
Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests