“Your life and my life are filled with blessings,” Carlos Santana proclaimed to the near-capacity crowd at the Shoreline Amphitheater on July 27th. As I looked up at the man, the myth, the legend — close enough to touch him — I couldn’t help but agree.
The smell of sweet, woodsy incense proceeded his entrance. Finally he took the stage in a flurry of incense smoke and cosmic images on the video screen, all which intensified the anticipation. He came out wearing his signature black hat and a long, intricately detailed black coat. Sometime within the first five songs he shed the coat, revealing his all-black outfit underneath.
Playing a mix of old songs and new, Santana easily slipped into a groove with the audience. People everywhere were on their feet, dancing with each other to the music, basking in the electrifying guitar riffs. The other band members on stage sang the lyrics for him, and helped to pump up the crowd, keeping them immersed in the music.
Before playing “Europa,” he asked what the ladies wanted to hear. The deafening cheers made it clear that “Europa” was what they wanted, and Santana brought it.
The whole night had the feel of a highly polished, highly professionalized jam session. Everyone onstage was an insanely accomplished musician, and it was clear to the audience how much fun they were all having playing with each other, and how proud they were to share a stage.
With three different drum sets, an ever-present glass of red wine, and constantly-burning incense, Santana managed to capture an essence both nostalgic and modern throughout his show.
One of the highlights, aside from the keyboardist using his head to play during “Tequilla,” was when Santana brought out his son, Salvador. Salvador Santana and his band opened for his father, artfully combining rap with beautiful harmonies and a lot of rock and roll influence to create a unique sound the audience enjoyed.
Though his sound was very different from his father’s, it was obvious that the musical talent had not fallen far from the tree. Salvador played a heartbreakingly beautiful keyboard introduction to his father’s song “Corazon Espinado.”
Santana then brought out Alex Nester, a member of Salvador’s band who plays keyboards and has an amazing vocal range. She sang with the three of them, her captivating energy creating a dynamic environment throughout the time she was onstage.
The jaw-droppingly amazing musicality of the night peaked during the beautiful ballad “No One to Depend On,” which turned into a giant jam session. Everyone on stage picked up tambourines and shredded on their respective instruments. The song was intensely moving.
However, Santana’s performance was not without its humor. Crazy musical interludes were followed by jokes or silly dance moves from him. At one point during the performance, he tilted his head up high, pinched his nose, and promptly spit out a long, arching stream of water. His best joke came after “Tequila.” Recovering from the building energy during the song, Santana looked into the audience and said, straight-faced, “Next week we’ll do one for bottled water.”
Photos by Rachel Feder / Senior Staff