It was almost a two-and-a-half-hour show, and yet anyone who caught Santana at the FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton last night would attest to one thing: Carlos and his eight-piece band could have played forever… and ever.
As just over 7,000 fans poured into the facility, the mood for the entire evening was set. A large screen on stage displayed psychedelic art and images of sorts – faces, symbols, and places – and jazz-fusion-style-music, dominated by the sound of a rich trumpet playing high and low notes, filled the air. The atmosphere was calm, welcoming, and peaceful.
“We didn’t take any selfies back in 1976, that’s for sure,” laughed a man who held up his smartphone to snap a pic of himself with friends at their seats. He was referring to the last time he saw Santana at Maple Leaf Gardens, after scoring last minute nose-bleed-seats. “Wow, forty-two years sure does fly by… Let’s do this again,” he said while saluting the main stage with his tall can of beer.
Then the lights dimmed and Santana took the stage.
Fans stood on their feet, clapping and cheering as the band unleashed “Soul Sacrifice,” a brilliant instrumental that launched them onto the world stage in 1969 at Woodstock.
The entire show was simply electrifying from start to finish. Carlos played scores of solos that were accompanied by Latin beats, and fans danced with delight to each song. Throughout the evening the large screen on stage captured the band, the audience, and displayed footage of African dancers in dress and picturesque beaches and the sea.
“I feel such a strong connection with the spirit of Africa because I believe that whenever I play my guitar, I am paying homage to my African ancestors, my brothers and sisters, who brought their music to the north all those centuries ago,” explained Carlos in a recent interview while promoting the band’s 2018 tour.
Throughout the night, Carlos reiterated the message of “freedom,” “love” and “peace” and how important it is that we always remain “kind to one another.”
“People want to go to Heaven when they die… Sure, that’s fine, but we need to live in Heaven while we are still alive together here on Earth,” shouted Carlos. The crowd responded with a big applause.
Carlos and company played lots of classics. After “Soul Sacrifice” ended, the band went right into playing “Jingo” and “Evil Ways.” The night continued with hit after hit, like “Black Magic Woman” and “Oye Como Va.”
The band spent much of the night jamming too, and at times tied in licks from songs that became famous during the hippy era: “Satisfaction” (Rolling Stones), “Get Ready” (The Temptations), and “Day Tripper” (The Beatles).
Of course the night was also filled with the band performing their popular Latin classics, like “Mona Lisa,” Maria Maria,” “Foo Foo,” and “Corazon Espinado.”
Cindy Blackman Santana, the wife of Carlos, stole the show with an amazing 10-minute drum solo. It was simply unreal.
And just like that, the show was over. The band bowed and waved farewell and said goodnight to the “Hammer.”
The show was a total rush. And it’s clear the band has just as much energy as they did when they formed 49 years ago.
No one seemed to want the show to end, not even Carlos.
Until next time.
Photo Credits: Trina Stewart/2018