Concert Review: Santana, Vector Arena

By Scott Kara

Carlos Santana is in love with a black magic woman. Really, he is, and she's got a wild afro, saucy style, and plays drums. Her name is Cindy Blackman - you might remember her from the video to Lenny Kravitz's Are You Gonna Go My Way - and she got up and did an off-the-hook cameo on the kit for Corizon Espinado.

The 63-year-old Mexican-American guitar hero - who threw blues, rock, jazz and salsa into a pot in the late 60s and early 70s and Mexicanised rock'n'roll - was quietly chuffed when he introduced her as his wife.

And when she wasn't playing drums she sat beside the stage with Carlos wandering over for a few sweet nothings at one stage before getting back into it with his first hit Evil Ways from the late 60s.

Love was a theme throughout the epic 2 1/2 hour concert with A Love Supreme, Santana's poignant 1973 reimagining of jazz great John Coltrane's Acknowledgement a highlight, and a cover of Sunshine of Your Love.

This show was part of the Guitar Heaven Tour, named after last year's album which paid homage to "the greatest guitar classics of all time" including that Cream song and AC/DC's Back In Black, played complete with karaoke-style vocals.

The instrumental versions would have stood up on their own, thanks.

Not that the two vocalists were bad, and with the Latin lilt on tracks like Oye Como Va (originally by salsa king Tito Puente) and the stunning guitar serenade of Maria Maria they came into their own.

With his 10-piece band, Santana moved from the exotic sashay of Black Magic Woman, onto the rabid and brassy carnival tune Foo Foo, which got the crowd off their seats and flailing their arms in the air; and then the primal psychedelic African salsa of Jingo with eight maracas chattering like rattlesnakes.

Elsewhere there were plenty of percussion storms, extended drum solos, and mardi gras grooves, but it's Santana who was the understated master.

Yes, there were flashes of ferocity when he mashed his high notes and did the occasional knee bend and stomp, but mostly he was a picture of poise and finesse.

THE LOWDOWN

What: Santana.

Where: Vector Arena.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a4 at 23 Jul 2014 18:09:24 Processing Time: 293ms