Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Supernatural Santana at the Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas, Nov 20, 2009

Until now, I hadn’t been to the Joint at the Hard Rock since they re-modeled it. I had seen some excellent gigs – Neil Young, Lou Reed, Sex Pistols – in the intimacy of the old club so I was surprised to find that the place has at least doubled in size. But, the sound is still superb and the sight-lines are good no matter where you are in the hall.

Carlos Santana is a guitarist who I have always respected since the beginning days of his self-named band and his major hits, such as “Evil Ways”, “Black Magic Woman” (a revised Fleetwood Mac song), “Everybody’s Everything”, “No One to Depend On” and on and on. My first band included a guitarist who was very influenced by the man (hey Rick!) and so I learned many of his songs early on. While he has not always been “cool” to listen to, he has always been a fantastic player and has written some amazing songs.

This show is promoted as a “trip through the hits” and it is that, though I would have preferred more of the 60's/70's tunes, rather than some of the newer songs that I barely knew (if at all). But, that’s standard for me and I am hardly the audience that the Joint is going for, in general.

That said, Santana did do many of his best, opening with the first track from his first album, the ethereal “Waiting”, then moving into the afore-mentioned “Black Magic Woman”, “Oye Como Va”, and even his cover of the Zombies’ classic “She’s Not There” (given a Latin beat) before going on to his more modern and more distinctly Latin-dance influenced numbers, such as “Smooth”.

His band is excellent, as usual, and set up similarly to the original group – a second guitarist, keys, bass, drums, 2 percussionists – along with two lead singers (an African-American and a Latino – some people may not remember that his band was probably the first Tri-Racial rock band) and the occasional horn section. Everyone worked together perfectly and brought the crowd to its feet many times.

Carlos continues to be a magnificent player and still remains relevant to this day – even while playing a Vegas nightclub! If you dig his style of Latin rock, this is a great show.