“We’re exalting the spirits up here of Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix up here” – Carlos Santana


MANHATTAN, NY—Santana band put on a fiery performance that ignited a maelstrom of junglfied Africana riffs and some oozy Hammond organ over the melodic thunder of guitarist Carlos’ crescendoing notes and vibrato into a loud ass mambo of intoxicated beats and rhythms. It went down like a flashback to their spirited and dynamic no-holds-barred performance at Woodstock that was immortalized in the film by the same name.

Original members, including keyboardist Greg Rolie, drummer Michael Shrieve and conga player Mike Carabello, took to the Garden as the gods of thunder rocked, rolled and then some. No rain, mud or overflowing toilets this time around but a seasoned set of clear-eyed musicians summoning up the spirit of Woodstock nation. Guitarist Neal Schon, who joined the band on Santana III in 1971 at the age of 15, joined them on the fourth number, taking them up through the new one, Santana IV.

From the opening conga lines of “Soul Sacrifice” from the first album, you knew you were witnessing a history lesson on tribal rock from a band that defined the genre and who singlehandedly sculpted the sound from the streets of San Francisco. Psychedelically delicious world beat to the oozing stew of Rolie’s Hammond organ and guitarist Carlos’ sonic odes to the gods, theirs was a dynamic molt of high-strung conga rock fused through the stoneyed trenches of the late ’60s.

“Jingo” was next and then “Evil Ways” followed. By the fourth number, as guitarist Neal Shon took to the stage, the night turned into a ferocious showdown of spit-fired leads. They rattled riffs off each other on “Batuka” like brothers in arms as the band propelled them onward. Both guitarists tag-teamed and edgy carnage was smoothed out by Rolie’s earthy tones and the rhythm section’s syncopated backbeats.

A bunch of new tunes from the new one, including “Anywhere You Want To Go” and “Fillmore East,” went down like classic Santana. Catchy riffs and molten melodies to the steel-eyed and soulful playing of Carlos and Schon, the guitarists duked it out into a playful mix as they took on different registers of the guitar, then combined them into one intertwining metamorphosis of sound.

On “Black Magic Woman,” Schon took over the first lead, then Carlos followed as the band then roared onto the grand finale. Tito Puente’s “Oye Como Va” slowed things down a bit as the groove became an infectious toe-tapping and foot-sliding salsa.

The Supernatural version of the Santana band, including wife and drummer extraordinaire Cindy Blackman, were next, and they laid down the hits from the 1999 album that put the band back on the map. “Maria Maria” and “Smooth” showcased how much the band has really changed through the years. Greg Rolie joined them on “Toussaint L’Overture” from Santana III, closing the circle on the dynamic rebirth of a classic lineup.

My ears are still ringing and eyes buggin at the incredible night. Thank you Santana band for bringing us back to the farm.


Show date: April 14, 2016

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