This seems to be the year for Santana. 2019 not only marks the 20th anniversary of his iconic album, Supernatural, but it’s also the 50th anniversary of his legendary performance at Woodstock. Last night at the Chase Center in San Francisco 20,000 of his closest friends came out to celebrate the occasion, for an evening of music that could only be described as rhythmic divinity.
Watching Carlos play is like being in the presence of something unearthly. “Cosmic Carlos” as some like to call him, plays like a man who transcends space and time and takes his listeners on the musical voyage of a lifetime. With a knack for mastering long and extended jams, the Latin Jimmy Hendrix also manages to somehow always stay true to the songs, never straying too far from the verse and hook.
For the evening’s attire, Carlos had selected a swanky white silk suit that he accentuated with a stunning fedora. This was complemented by the rest of the band who were also sporting various white acoutrements. The guitarist kicked things off with “Are You Ready” and “(Da Le) Yaleo” on which vocalists Ray Greene and Andy Vargas showcased an impressive set of pipes.
“Put Your Lights On,” followed suit with vocal duties handled by Tommy Anthony on rhythm guitars. On “Jin-go-lo-ba,” a Babatunde Olatunji cover, Santana put the spotlight on all the percussionists on stage including his phenomenal wife Cindy Blackman, who was holding the backbeat steady on a fancy set of black-dot-drumhead-covered Gretsch drums. But it wasn’t until “Evil Ways” that the crowd really went wild. It was no surprise considering the lasting success of that song.
“Black Magic Woman,” “Maria Maria” and a stunning version of Tito Puentes’ single “Oye Como Va” followed suit, to complete a string of hits for a night that will be hard to forget.
Opening the show was Latin retro-funksters WAR. The multicultural band was introduced by the one and only George Lopez who had come out to support. Flashbacks of old Cheech and Chong movies were hard to miss by the time “Low Rider” and “Cisco Kid” were played. Their camaraderie and overall good vibes were infectious and go to show that in the end, no matter your walk of life, music really is the glue that binds us all.
Photos by Louis Raphael