In which I get to see another Woodstock legend (and at a pretty cool venue).
Everything about this show was really just happy coincidence, fate, or something like that. Stuck in Vegas for a few days for work, I noticed that Carlos Santana was doing a run of shows at the House of Blues – as luck would have it, their first night turned out to be the last night I was in town. Sure, I had to get up at 4:00 the next morning to get on a plane, but this was an opportunity I wasn’t going to pass up. I convinced a buddy who was at the conference with me to come along, deciding to get tickets at the door.
Remarkably, when we walked up to get tickets, an older (read: trustworthy looking) woman offered us two extra VIP tickets for half price because her sister wasn’t able to make it (or something like that). So we ended up at a table about 30 feet from the stage for roughly the price we would have paid to be much, much further away. After scarfing down some grub while watching the pre-show video scrapbook of Woodstock-era photos, the man and his eight-piece band came to the stage. No, there would be no opener tonight – just two hours of Santana shredding while his crew kicked every ass in the room.
Led by vocalist and trombone player Ray Green, the band was up to the task of playing alongside such a legend. In all, there were three drum or bongo kits (including Carlos’s wife Cindy on one), keyboard, bass, backing guitar, and two vocalists. Although Carlos only sang sparingly, Ray and his sidekick sounded beautiful and allowed the man to do what he does best – and he seemed to be having a good time doing it, all the while fiercely chewing some gum like a much cooler Pete Carroll.
Although I didn’t recognize every song, I was surprised at just how many I did. The night was billed as “Santana’s Greatest Hits Live”, and that description was apt. There were plenty of older hits, including “Evil Ways”, “Oye Como Va”, “Black Magic Woman”, and “Everybody’s Everything”. There were six songs from his 1999 mega-hit collaboration Supernatural, including the crowd favorites “Smooth” and “Put Your Lights On”. Some of the finest moments of the evening were the songs the band covered: Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”, Billy Ocean’s “Caribbean Queen”, “Imagine” (sung by Cindy), Peggy Lee’s “Fever”, and show closer “Get Together” by the Youngbloods.
This was a genuine treat to see and I feel blessed to have experienced the man doing his thing. As he said to us towards the end of the night, “music is the universal language”. His calls for love, understanding, and inclusion were heartfelt and really brought the crowd together, and the music was consistently fantastic. What a night!
Setlist- I got the vast majority, but a few were over my head.
A Love Supreme (John Coltrane cover)
(Da Le) Yaleo
Love of My Life
Put Your Lights On
Caribbean Queen (Billy Ocean cover)
Black Magic Woman
Oye Como Va
No One to Depend On
Imagine (John Lennon cover)
Fever (Peggy Lee cover)
Get Together (Youngbloods cover)
Spotify setlist link: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6ic03zkpLo3mNp14V9vcKu?si=7qAJWrcTTGGhUoYQjndl9w