Chicago Theatre Review
Santana- Still as Good as Advertised…and Smooth
I went to see Carlos Santana on a very drizzly Saturday night. The umbrellas of the lawn crowd shimmering like waves on the sea… Excuse me for a moment; I have to cross Santana off of my bucket list. Ok, so where was I? Waves on the sea, blah, blah, blah. Let’s talk Santana. He still rocks. Like he’s been doing for the past 49 years. Half a century. As good as ever. Maybe even better now. Aging like a fine wine comes to mind.
Carlos Santana officially started his career in 1966. While forever sealed in memory as one of the legendary icons of Woodstock fame, he has also put out 23 albums using at least 56 different musicians in his band. His 1999 release Supernatural, was the Album of the Year. He has also managed to put 10 Grammys on his trophy shelf.
The Santana Experience is a high energy performnace. At 68, his talk is still soft spoken and of a spiritual, peaceful nature. Conversely, his guitar is as strong a presence on the stage as it has always been.
His band is a perfect compliment to his finger and flat picking, which seems to mostly be done on the G, B, and E (last three) strings with few chords to interrupt his expert weaving on the musical loom. Pepe Jimenez and Karl Perazzo were amazing on drums. Bring in Paoli Mejias on congas to complete an explosive percussion section. It’s hard to believe that a two man brass section (Bill Ortiz-trumpet and Jeff Cressman-trombone) can deliver so much beauty and power. Keyboardist and the other guitarists were great too. Also, awesome vocals by Tony Lindsay and Andy Vargas. Salvador Santana joined his father on stage to sing a couple songs from his new album, nicely backed up by singer Alex Nester.
You know how you see something in a brochure or online and the real object or experience doesn’t live up to the pictures? Well, Carlos Santana is as good as advertised- as good as the brochure.
Although Santana has only sporadically been considered a mainstream artist, he gave the crowd beautiful and true renditions of Smooth, Evil Ways, Jingo and Europa. His playing is as fresh as it was half a century ago. Seeing him play was as good as I imagined it would be. And I’ve had 40 years to think about it. I highly recommend him to be placed on your bucket list.
VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Reviewed by Scott Kirshenbaum