The highly celebrated and acclaimed guitarist, Carlos Santana has hit our humble shores once again as he starts his worldwide tour on his recently released album titled ‘Shape Shifter’ together with his league of extraordinary musicians. Being the versatile yet identity-catching person that he is, he has set out to explore new horizons with his new album and also looked into the possibilities of collaborating with local artistes. He was very much hyped up and enthusiastic about the topic when asked by local media on his next plans for an album and such collaborations.
His music sends familiarity throughout the years of growing up. Coming from a household with Woodstock music as our daily playlist, the song “Evil Ways” constantly rings in my ears up till this very day when my father feels nostalgic and replays his old playlists. Seeing Santana has always been a childhood dream because I thought I was always to young to sit in at a concert of one of the world’s precious gem of a musician. True enough, I still feel really young despite being in my mid 20s amongst the wave of veteran music goers and also familiar faces of local musicians who are also known for their mad guitar skills.
The graphics on the screen, to what I believe depicts and defines the album ‘Shape Shifter’ started of as somewhat trippy and it felt like the festival that I didn’t get a chance to attend unless a time machine actually exists; Woodstock 1969. More so having a musician performing back in the festival was the closest I can get to experience the magical night that the young baby in diaper me was eagerly waiting for.
The sound of bongos rang across the speakers as the whole band, drums, keyboard, maracas, bass fused into one to the beat of ‘Batuka’ – the crowd jolted out from their seats, many were seen swaying their hips from side to side. The crowed roared even louder as soon as they saw that signature top hat with the crest. Clad in his chinos and a nicely fitted linen shirt, the star of the show greeted the stage with his signature Gibson SG Special guitar, strumming to his familiar guitar licks, emitting full prowess on an instrument of which is fused with him, like they are one person altogether.
I was standing up, as I rubbed my eyes trying to actually believe that right before me, is one of my guitar heroes of all time – the one whose music was introduced to me when I was just knee-high and dancing to ‘Evil Ways’. There he was right before my eyes, and I was immersed and soaked in the energy of the concert. The night just started but I was already feeling all Mexican jumping bean-ish inside. Mexican, very apt!
I always remembered how my dad would air guitar to the intro of “Black Magic Woman” and that was the closest I had to listening to the live version, while looking my old man imitating the guitar expressions of his guitar idol. I tried playing the tunes to the sound, but it all just ended up with me snapping the strings. But that was all just a memory shoved under the carpet as soon as the man himself burst into the signature intro solo of the song. I went crazy and literally shouted “Oh my gosh! Is he really playing “Black Magic Woman”?” to a stranger on my left and he joined in the excitement and exclaimed, “Yes my friend, it is!” I was literally blown away and I felt like I was caught in a trance as I closed my eyes and jived to the song.
I remember listening to every single track of the album ‘Supernatural’ religiously, and I was only about nine years old then. The song “Maria Maria” got me hooked onto the album. Mr. Santana moved towards his acoustic guitar set up for him just right in front of the stage and without any hesitation, he began plucking to the familiar sounds of the flamenco infused song with its R&B beats, as the vocalist screamed into the microphone and said “played by Carlos Santana” and soon progressed into my ultimate favourite song. Though it was G&B originally singing in the song, it felt just as good as when I first listened to the song on the radio, and had it on repeat on the CD player. The night kept getting better and better.
A well build middle age woman then greeted us, whom I thought was a guest vocalist at first. Little did I realize she was a guest drummer and she worked her magic on the drum set that sends me back to yesteryears, playing to the familiar tune of the late John Bonham. She was like a beast on drums and it took me some time before it dawned on me – after she gave Mr. Santana a light peck on the lips as he introduced her to the crowd – it was Cindy Blackman, better known as Mrs. Santana herself!
I have to admit I was anticipating the song “Into The Night” to be performed by them but I wasn’t close to disappointed as the encore bellowed out was the song that topped the charts of Billboard in 1999 and also clinched one of the best albums of that time. Santana’s collaboration with the frontman of the band Matchbox Twenty, Rob Thomas, had us crooning to the lyric “it was a hot one, like seven inches from the mid day sun”. Yes, the song “Smooth” indeed was the song of the night. Everyone was literally on their feet, with gyrating hips moving to steps of what appears to me like the Cuban Samba.
I gave off robotic vibes and technical movements when I dance so I was just bobbing my head to the beat while having mini explosions inside of me. The night ended off beautifully that left me smiling from ear to ear, while having my ears buzzing from the overpowering speakers. Thank you Lushington for allowing me to strike one band off my list of must see guitarists before I die.