Oddly, I actually got these tickets free. Xfinity sent me a note and said that “they miss me” (aww!) and wanted to offer me a couple of free tickets. I could pick from a list of available shows and fully expected a load of dross to choose from. Imagine my surprise when I saw Doobies and Santana together. I jumped all over that and (to my further surprise since she doesn’t go as often) my wife said she wanted to go.
So we went to Xfinity Center, previously known as Great Woods, Tweeter Center (remember Tweeter?), and Comcast Center. I personally won’t rest until every single fucking music venue in the country is named for some completely unrelated conglomerate. Xfinity (free tickets aside) is getting old. If we’re going to go corporate, let’s do it. How about Liquid Plumber Center or Charmin Center for the Performing Arts? Why not Depends Arena? (end of rant.)
Now, I think I was somewhat naive about the kind of free tickets Great Woods (see what I did there?) might offer. I’ve certainly been there before (Lynyrd Skynrd last year) and know the layout. But I was super disappointed to find that my tickets were not at the end of the enclosed shed but way out up by the freaking lawn. This was totally my mistake as perhaps wishful thinking made me think they were closer.
I will admit this put me into somewhat of a pissed-off funk. I couldn’t even take the edge off as I previously swore I would not pay Xfinity’s rip-off fee of $14+ for a beer no matter how they enticed me in there. (Security made me throw away a very small keychain can opener I’ve had since high school as it might be seen as a “dangerous weapon.”)
Well, given all that and my general grumpiness (exacerbated by an annoying email from a colleague), I did my best to enjoy this show. The good news is they had several monitors. The bad news is that the Doobies – who I’ve never seen before – had only a static view of the band the entire time. I don’t know why this is. Is there a fee they have to pay to get close-ups? I know that often opening bands get the short end of the stick from the headliner in terms of both sound and vision but this didn’t seem like something Carlos would allow.
In any event, the people a couple rows ahead of us had a hell of a time. They appeared to be three strangers (gal and two guys) who were just totally into it and danced up a storm. I actually had more fun watching them than the show. The Doobies are a realy good band and sounded top-notch. According to what I read of the setlist, they only did seven songs. Seemed like more than that to me.
But “Jesus Is Just Alright,” “China Grove,” “Black Water,” sure. All good stuff. My wife (who doesn’t really follow bands per se) know most of the tunes but wasn’t aware they were all Doobies. Here they are from Texas recently. (Tom Johnston needs to lose the wig).
After a break, Santana came on. Fortunately, my mood had improved and so had the visuals. We got gobs of close-ups. By close-up I don’t means guys’ fingers on their instruments. I play guitar and I’ve long since gotten over the “oh-geez, wow, look at how fast he plays” star-struck horseshit. I just want to see as if I was in the front row and – as you’ll see – the monitors acquitted quite well.
Since the show was only a few days after the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, the show started with a video of the original band starting “Soul Sacrifice” at Woodstock and then segued into them playing it live. A nice hippie moment if ever there was one. And it went something like this:
After they played a few tunes, my wife – who plays no instrument but is fairly astute in these matters- noted what a leap upwards in musicianship Santana’s band was. And she was spot on. The Doobies are an excellent rock band and play their instruments quite well.
But Santana’s band just fucking blew them out of the water, one minute doing their Latin-rock stuff the next minute veering into Coltrane territory. And pulling it off extraordinarily well. Carlos’ wife Cindy Blackman-Santana is his drummer. Some commenter turned me onto her recently, and boy, she’s a force of nature.
Here’s the band doing “Smooth” from that night. Despite that haters who think this song is too commercial (or something), I personally think it’s one of the best songs he ever did. Period. End of story.
You’re probably saying to yourself, “Hmm, did the Doobies and Santana play together?” Yes, indeed. Oddly, they didn’t save it for the encore but performed “Some Kind of Wonderful” six songs in. Odd. Maybe the Doobies wanted to relax and smoke a doobie, I don’t know. I sure could have used one. (They ended our version with a Boston favorite I also heard Steely Dan do, “Dirty Water.” This song gets played after Red Sox games after every win. It hasn’t been played a lot this year.)
This was the third time we’ve seen Santana. The first time – literally 20 or so years ago at the same venue – it got so cold we left mid-show. The last time was a few years ago at a different outdoor venue. Good show but Carlos was buried in the mix. This show got it just right and so yes, sometimes third time is a charm.
I’ll leave you here with virtually the entire show from Indiana about a week or two before we saw it. (At the Ruoff Home Mortage Center formerly Deer Creek Center. I rest my case. Even the person who filmed the entire thing from the monitors couldn’t deal with the name.)
If you’re a Santana fan, you owe it to yourself to watch great gobs of this video if not the whole thing. I’ll let you decide if the occasional rapping by Santana’s son works. For me, it’s a mixed bag. For the record, despite Carlos having a new album, he did precious little from it.
And despite all my griping, thank you Xfinity Center for the freebies.
Evil Ways / A Love Supreme
(Da Le) Yaleo
Put Your Lights On
Some Kind of Wonderful / The Way You Make Me Feel / Dirty Water
(With The Doobie Brothers)
Breaking Down the Door
Lamento / Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen
Oye Como VA
Samba Pa Ti
Salvador Santana piano Solo
Hope You’re Feeling Better
Total Destruction to Your Mind