With the explosive success of the 1999 album Supernatural, Carlos Santana found that he could finally sell-out stadiums around the world, delivering his Latin-fused pop-rock to several generations of music lovers.

Supernatural's 25 million sales and nine Grammy awards have ensured his concerts these days are elaborate, well-attended musical extravaganzas, the sort of outlet ethnic music rarely enjoys except through a world music festival such as Womad.

What you get from Santana is wonderfully textured music that melds organ, bongo drums, trombone and a range of other instruments, all overlaid by his silky electric guitar.


Naturally, it was the Supernatural set-list that dominated the show, as well as numbers from last year's equally guest-artist-littered though unoriginal follow-up Shaman.

The slow and soulful Put Your Lights On, which Santana wrote with Everlast, was a highlight, well handled by Santana's two energetic male vocalists, Tony Lindsay and Andy Vargas.

Maria, Maria had the crowd dancing, as did Smooth, Santana's excellent collaboration with Matchbox Twenty frontman Rob Thomas.

But the nice thing was, you didn't have to be too well acquainted with Santana's extensive back catalogue to enjoy the rest of the show as each number erupted into a well choreographed, percussion-powered jam.

It was as though you were at a steamy street carnival in Tijuana.

The instrumental pieces were moody and emotional, if at times a little longwinded.

Santana's dozen-strong band had ample opportunity to show off their talents. The highlight was an exceptional solo from ex-P-Funk drummer Dennis Chambers.

Santana himself hasn't really changed much since he took to the stage at Woodstock - the original one - back in the summer of 69.

He pads around the stage, weaving between his band members as he belts out one flawless guitar solo after another. While the percussion and brass sections give the songs their bombastic flavour, it is Santana, strangling the fretboard, who steers them through their dips and peaks.

A man of few words, thankfully, Santana stopped only to ask for peace and love and condemn the sick mind of Bush and the sick mind of Saddam Hussain.

A giant screen above him showed a dove flying free. It was all a bit sickly sweet, but served as a reminder that bombs were falling far away as Santana played.

The whole time a camera crew crawled over the stage delivering shots from every angle to the screen above.

An extended encore had Santana going back to the early days, to Black Magic Woman, the hit that launched his career. It capped a night that music-lovers of any persuasion would have likely appreciated.