It’s said that Woodstock made Carlos Santana famous. But during a recent Santana set, I wondered if the opposite might be true. Some may argue that the 67-year-old guitarist is past his prime, his early fiery attack having subsided into his current style of Zen-like spell casting. Still, Santana (10 members in all) can pour it on loudly, heavily. Despite wielding, at best, a half-dozen genuine radio smashes, the band knows how to “stretch the chicken,” avoiding long sections of unfamiliar tunes. “Jingo” jammed; “Oye Como Va” moved; “Black Magic Woman” was, well, magical. Singers Tony Lindsay and Andy Vargas nailed it, seamlessly connecting the band’s half-century discography, everything from “Soul Sacrifice” to “Smooth.” Santana himself remains nimble; his fret-board fingering was tight, eloquent. Experiencing Santana live offers a taste of what got the hippies high and hungry for more than a Tupperware life. Like them, I never want to come down. ★★★★✩
Carlos Santana plays House of Blues again January 28-31.
Photos by Wayne Posner