By KANG SOON CHEN
ASIA NEWS NETW
GUITAR LEGEND Carlos Santana loves his Thai fans a lot, so much so that he has become something of a regular on the Bangkok concert scene, playing to a sold-out crowd every two or three years. His latest gig, part of his “Santana Luminosity Tour 2016” on Monday night at Impact Arena, Muang Thong Thai, was his fourth concert in the City of Angels to date and came just a couple of years after his previous tour in 2013.
Judging by the energy of the concert crowd, the love is entirely mutual. The crowd had been thoroughly worked up and over by opening act Carabao, the songs-for-life veterans and the doyens of Thai rock scene, and excitement was at fever pitch by the time Santana came out on stage.
Compared to his legion of veteran hippie-looking fans at the concert, the 68-year-old Mexican-American seemed like a Zen rock star with his frequent messages of peace and wellness. He rarely broke out into fevered jamming, most of the time contenting himself with blasting out his music nonchalantly, smacking his gums yet still remaining flamboyant.
The set performed on Monday was a mix of classic hits like “Toussaint L’ouverture” , “Gypsy Queen” and “A Love Supreme” plus “Love Makes the World Go Round” and “Freedom in Your Mind”, which are to be released on “Santana IV”, a comeback album with the original Santana band line-up next month.
After “Freedom in Your Mind”, Santana announced that it was time to make the women happy and play “Maria Maria”. The crowd went wild at the hot hit and airwave favourite and sang along to their heart’s content. Lead vocalist Andy Vargas did a decent job of covering the vocals originally performed by The Product G&B.
While the ladies in the crowd were certainly pleased as they sambaed to Santana’s brand of Latin rock, drummer Cindy Blackman, the only woman on stage, stole the attention with her superb, intense performance. Blackman, who is also Santana’s partner in life, proved that she’s very much a star in her own right, keeping the crowd spellbound during her solo.
Just as in 2013, Carabao returned to the stage for a jam with Santana, rocking fans with a well-improvised set that continued for three numbers before handing the stage back to the guitar maestro for “Sacala” and “Oye Como Va”. The show hit a high note with another airwave favourite, “Smooth”, made popular by Rob Thomas.
With a career spanning almost half a century, Santana is one of the few guitarists of his era who continues to tour and make music. His pal, former Beatle Paul McCartney is an exception, though he too is showing signs of slowing down.
Santana, who has always been inspired by late blues guitarist BB King, paid homage to Jimi Hendrix as well as to McCartney at the end of the concert. It was a nice touch but for the packed auditorium, just watching and listening to Santana work his magic on the guitar was enough of a thrill.
Screams for an encore brought the guitarist and showman extraordinaire back out on the stage for a lively rendition of “Soul Sacrifice” and “Saidera” to close out the show.