Santana trips through the hits

It seems like no time has passed, but Carlos Santana is approaching the end of his two-year residency at The Joint (Supernatural Santana: A Trip Through the Hits, 8 p.m. Jan. 14-16, April 20-24, 27, 29-30, May 1, $51 and up, 693-5583).Having already watched his show, I was curious to see if he could entertain first-timers and repeat customers. The answer, for the most part, would lie in his set list. Gleaning from his 45-year career, he seemed to divide the evening (I went Jan. 7) into two acts: obscure songs and crowd-pleasers.

Santana and his 10-piece band opened strong with the room-shaking “Jingo” from his 1969 debut album, setting the tone for the percussion-heavy Latin-tinged retrospective. The first 45 minutes delved into Santana’s career, with radio hit “Maria Maria” standing out.

Next was a mix of notable and head-scratching moments. Trumpeter Bill Ortiz channeled Miles Davis during “Black Magic Woman,” and Santana himself touched on Jimi Hendrix’s “Third Stone From the Sun.” Following staple “Oye Como Va” the night took a surprising turn with a funky cover of AC/DC’s “Back in Black,” from 2010 album Guitar Heaven. Vocalists Tony Lindsay and Andy Vargas delivered the lyrics rap-style.

“Evil Ways” segued into John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme,” during which Santana chided Barack Obama and preached the virtues of “light and love” as marijuana leaves danced on the screen.

The show’s finale included another cover from Guitar Heaven, Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love,” pop-chart topper “Smooth” and Woodstock gem “Soul Sacrifice,” which he opened with last year. However, any momentum dissipated with the show’s closer: “Into the Night,” a song originally done in 2007 with Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger. It seemed an uninspired end for an artist who has crossed so many musical boundaries.

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