Carlos Santana plays Sixties themes, musically and politically
By Daniel Durchholz
SPECIAL TO THE POST-DISPATCH
Carlos Santana may be in TV commercials these days, shilling for Macy's, but the message he offered at Scottrade Center on Wednesday night had a more egalitarian purpose.
"Brotherhood … sisterhood. No more us and them. Oneness," he intoned over his 10-piece band's simmering Latin beat.
Santana is an icon of Woodstock Nation, a point the occasional clips that played on a video board made clear. And his late-'90s resurgence made him a star all over again. But while his 2˝-hour show was filled with ecstasy-inducing jams and crowd-pleasing radio hits, Santana deflected much of the attention to his own heroes.
"We are the echo of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, John Lennon," he said, reeling off a list of others. He also acknowledged playing in St. Louis, which he called "Miles Davis' place, Chuck Berry's place."
The music drew on some of those sources of inspiration. A gorgeous, meditative take of John Coltrane's "Naima" spotlighted trumpeter Bill Ortiz. Santana led his band, fronted by vocalists Tony Lindsey and Andy Vargas, through Bob Marley's "Exodus" and matched Marvin Gaye's "Right On" with Mos Def's "Umi Says." The latter tunes are about struggle and strife but ultimately perseverance and uplift, and they couldn't have sounded more timely.
Long instrumental jams, such as "Incident at Neshabur" and "Soul Sacrifice," gave keyboardist Chester Thompson, drummer Dennis Chambers, and congueros Karl Perazzo and Raul Rekow room to stretch out. Santana, meanwhile, made the most of his rich, liquid guitar tone and impassioned — yet always melodic — playing style.
But it was the hits — old and new, ranging from the classics "Black Magic Woman" and "Oye Como Va" to the more recent "Maria Maria" and "Smooth" — that got the crowd to its feet.
True, there was plenty of room to dance: Scottrade's lower bowl wasn't even full. But if you closed your eyes, it seemed that Woodstock Nation had reconvened once again — if you forgot that you were dry, not stoned and had less hair.
Slide guitarist Derek Trucks, who sat in with Santana for a couple of numbers, opened the show with his own band. His set didn't offer much in the way of showmanship, but Trucks' command of Southern blues and boogie guitar styles is obvious.
i had such a good time at this show won free tix...carlos!!!
Viva Santana !!
ST. LOUIS, MO 4/23/08
AOAND VIDEO INTRO
2. LIFE IS FOR LIVING
3. EVERYBODY’S EVERYTHING
6. NAIMA/MARIA MARIA
7. FOO FOO
8. CORAZON ESPINADO
9. INCIDENT AT NESHABUR
10. BATUKA/NO ONE TO DEPEND ON
11. RIGHT ON/UMI SAYS
12. *THE CALLING
14. BMW/GYPSY QUEEN
15. OYE COMO VA
17. WOODSTOCK CHANT**/SOUL SACRIFICE
18. ANGEL CHANT/ INTO THE NIGHT
*WITH DEREK TRUCKS
** WITH GARY RICH