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Concert Reviews:
Santana reigns ecstatic at DTE

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Friday, August 28, 2015

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- Santana started its show on Friday night, Aug. 28, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre with footage of the band performing at the first Woodstock festival in 1969.

But this was the rare instance where the group onstage, in the flesh, was just as good as and possibly even better than the one on screen from all those years ago.

A perennial DTE (and, of course, Pine Knob) favorite Santana upheld its reputation as one of rock's most consistently exciting live acts on Friday, with a blazing, nearly two-and-a-half hour performance that was joyous from start to finish -- even during the rare moment when it slowed down a bit, during the instrumental "Europa (Earth's Cry, Heaven's Smile)." But mostly guitarist Carlos Santana and his 10-member crew focused on polyrhthmic instrumental pyrotechnics, with a trio of percussionists pounding the group through its paces while Santana and keyboardist David K. Mathews lit into a succession of virtuoistic solos that brought extra heft to just about every song in the show, including the Grammy Award-winning pop hits such as "Maria Maria" and "Smooth."

There was no shortage of Santana staples during the concert, including the show-opening "Soul Sacrifice" and versions of Babatunde Olatunji's "Jingo," Tito Puente's "Oye Como Va" and the dynamic pairing of Willie Bobo's "Evil Ways" and John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme." Santana over-reached a bit during the usual combination of Fleetwood Mac's "Black Magic Woman" and "Gypsy Queen," but a long and playful romp through the Champs' "Tequila" -- which included a bit of the Temptations's "Get Ready" -- was spot-on.

And the group scored equally well with surprises such as Michael Jackson`s "A Place With No Name," Deon Jackson`s "Love Makes the World Go 'Round," Skank's "Saideira" and "Corazon Espinado," Santana's collaboration with Mana from 1999's smash album "Supernatural." Santana's son Salvador, meanwhile, got a warm reception from the DTE crowd for his three-song "special guest" appearance, playing the contemporary urban-flavored material from his new album, "Fantasy Reality."

It was a night that lived up to the elder Santana's stated goal that "We want this to be the most memorable night ever." You'd be hard-pressed to find many at DTE who felt it wasn't.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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