By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy, Photos by Matt “Rabit” Martinez Red Hare Images
Man, it was a cold one. It is the official first day of summer, and it is feeling like winter still. I don’t know, maybe we are still feeling chilling effects of Game of Thrones finale or watching Iron Man sacrifice himself. Either way, I am tired of this cold, gloomy weather clouding over my summer. If anyone can turn up the heat and warm up our chakras, then that would have to be Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Famer Latin rock guitar legend Carlos Santana. The man is sizzled and cooked up some spicy riffs at Woodstock ’69 and have us endure the supernatural just before the new millennium hit us is still a hurricane of amazing guitar melodies that bend the laws of rock. Known for putting his Latin flavor into R&B, soul, rock, and pop, Santana and his longtime band, Santana, have returned to the stage and released a new record, Africa Speaks. His first stop was at the Five Points Amphitheater in Irvine, with the Doobie Brothers in tow (unfortunately, we missed them, but we did listen to the music). Rabit and I headed over to hear the sounds of the guitar…played by Carlos Santana.
Once the Doobie Brothers finished there set, we had a 30 minute intermission, enough time to get some chow. Once we returned, the stage lights go off, and we hear the sweet sounds of “Soul Sacrifice,” a song Santana made famous at Woodstock. It is amazing, this man is 71 years old and he has not lost any of his lust when it comes to the guitar. Between electric and acoustic, his fingers continue to dance on the frets flawlessly. His bandmates all were on their “A” game and each were like a gem on diamond ring. Rhythm guitarist Tommy Anthony and bassist Benny Rietveld laid down the Latin rock grooves beautifully. Santana arms himself 2 percussionists and 1 drummer. Karl Perazzo bits into the rhythms with his custom made drum set, while Paoli Mejías bopped the night away on the bongos. Cindy Blackman Santana, wife of Carlos, is one ass-kicking drummer, switching up her styles from jazz to rock. After “Maria Maria,” she stomped the crowd with an insane drum solo. David K. Matthews brought some old school rock magic to Santana on his custom keyboard set. His sound reminds me of the late great keyboardists Ray Manzarek of the Doors and John Lord of Deep Purple. Carlos’ own son, Salvador, rocked it out not only on his keyboards, but he also busted a flow with some rapping. Dual vocalists and instrumentalists Andy Vargas and Ray Greene brought down the house their smooth voices. Greene also plays a mean trombone.
In the course of their performance, Santana mainly played material off of their 1999 international hit album, Supernatural, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary. They did a lot of the classic covers that made them who they are from the 60s. From “Jin-go-lo-ba” to “Evil Ways,” “A Love Supreme,” “Black Magic Woman,” “Gypsy Queen,” and the iconic “Oye Como Va,” Santana was on point with each song. From Supernatural, they gave us “(Da Le) Yaleo,” “Love of My Life,” “Corazón Espinado,” “Put Your Lights On,” “The Calling,” and the ultra-cool “Maria Maria.” The only song they did from Africa Speaks was “Breaking Down the Door.” They even threw in “Foo Foo” and “In Search of Mona Lisa.” Of course, Santana would not be able to complete the night without playing his most iconic song of all-time, “Smooth.” I kind of wish Rob Thomas would pop out to sing this tune, but Vargas and Greene killed it. The night came to a close with Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September” and The Chambers Brothers “Love, Peace and Happiness,” a message Santana loves to spread.
Full Santana gallery below:
Towards the end, it started to drizzle on us, but we were plenty warm thanks to smoking hot Latin sounds of Carlos Santana. I have been wanting to see him for some time, and now I can cross him off my list. I wished they would play the Chad Kroger duet “Into the Night,” but it was still a night full of fiery grooves. All I can say about Carlos is that when I am not like myself, his guitar can always smooth my mood. To Santana, I salute you. Horns up!!! Ole!