Concert Review – Santana

A couple of months ago, we went to see Santana in Boston. I’ve been a fan of Carlos’ music, at least since Woodstock. (Didn’t go. Loved the album). Oddly I’d only seen the band once before probably 20 years ago and I remember we left early because it was outside and got too damn cold.

So we decided to check this show out. The venue in Boston is called the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion. It’s also an outdoors venue, right on the harbor. We had seen Sting there the previous year and really like the place. It’s comfortable and at 5,000 seats, reasonably intimate. Our seats were maybe twenty rows back. The only thing that sucked is that there was a speaker hanging down in front of the big screen so I could never get a good picture of the band.

How was the show? Well, it was very good but not great. What was not great? For one, the sound. I thought it was kinda muddy. Somehow things didn’t stand out. I mean for one thing, Carlos’ guitar didn’t come sailing out over the band but seemed to be just part of it. When they started playing “Europa” it took a while to recognize it.

The set list was good. There were some songs from the latest album “Corazon” (which was the name of the tour.) Most of the crowd didn’t seem familiar with it but were all up and dancing anyway. And the hits were there too – “Oye Como Va,” “Smooth,” “Black Magic Woman.”

The biggest drag on the show is that Carlos’ son – Sal? – came out mid-show and did a pop/rap thing with some woman. He kept frantically running around the stage, back and forth from mic to keyboard. If I didn’t know better I would have thought he was on meth. The whole thing struck me as being a second-rate version of the Black-Eyed Peas. Pretty much everybody in the audience either sat down or went for a beer. Totally killed the mood and Carlos had to work hard to get it back.

At the time I did not know he was Carlos’ son so I was able to be pretty objective about it. His music is way different from his father’s and doesn’t – I think – belong in this show. Hey, I’m all for new stuff. I don’t mind that they rapped. It just wasn’t good.

Highlight for me was that for the very last song of the encore they did “Toussaint L’Ouverture” which is just a great, great instrumental which was wholly unexpected. Again, though, I think the sound quality made me wish I was instead listening to the record. I actually think a better final number would have been the fun, upbeat “Everybody’s Everything.” Hell, do ’em both.

Anyway, despite the sound and the son, we still enjoyed it and were glad we went. Audience dug it too. Interestingly, the place wasn’t full and I think that’s largely due to the band not touring behind a hit.