Adelaide by Hal Miller

Santana Transmogrify Tour
Adelaide, Australia

I think it’s fair to say that by the time Santana arrived in Adelaide for the Botanic Gardens show, just about everyone in our troupe had gotten over the long trip Down Under and the massive time difference. (Or, at least the yawns in afternoon conversations had pretty much disappeared) The intervening time at Perth coupled with a very successful concert had done wonders. And as added inspiration and incentive for a great outside Adelaide show the band was sharing the evening with the legendary Doobie Brothers Band.

Not surprisingly, the Doobie Brothers were sensational. Most of the Santana musicians managed to get backstage for a few songs; they are, after all, fans, too, just like everyone else and quite excited with the prospect of doing a few Australian concerts with this fabulous band.

Once again, the “O Paradiso” opening with the Indian prayer music and the on-screen images of the Buddha had its desired effect, announcing to all that they were about to participate in an experience unlike any they’d had before-Santana was here in Adelaide. Santana Video Director Bob Higgins deserves special mention because his ability to translate and transfer Carlos’ ideas and the various songs themselves into on-screen video is nothing less than uncanny.

Notwithstanding the fact that Australia is in its post-summer phase and pretty much warm all over, Adelaide was freezing! Everyone except for Tommy Anthony and Paoli Mejias wore a jacket or heavy shirt and keyboardist David K. Mathews, with his exposed location on the lip of the stage, was dressed for Arctic exploration. The real heroes, though, were the thousands of intrepid folks who braved and endured the inclement weather and acted like they were having the time of their lives. Those Aussies are a tough bunch- hats off to them.

The concert itself was another series of highlights. Once again the crowd erupted when they realized that the mesmerizing musical duet Carlos and David K. Mathews had entered was actually the intro for “Black Magic Woman”. The stark contrast between David’s solo performance on “Rain” followed by Benny Rietveld’s impassioned solo turn had the same impact here as it did at Singapore and in Perth: the extended hush that came over the crowd culminated in loud and joyous acclaim that continued even as Carlos followed them with his rendition of “Kate”.

By evening’s conclusion, some two hours + later, as Carlos was introducing the members of the band, he invited guitarist Tommy Anthony to do his thing and Tommy launched into “Roxanne” and a call & answer routine with a happy audience. Tommy never fails to absolutely delight the crowd at this juncture of the concerts and I think the most appreciative is Carlos, himself, who steps back and gives the stage to the talented Mr. Anthony.

Australia is very much like old home to Carlos; he’s been coming here since 1973. he knows the cities, their hotels, the places of interests, and especially the restaurants. When he walks in to a familiar restaurant, he’s greeted by the manager and often the chef comes out front to say hello. With his by now legendary recall, Carlos always seems to know what meal he prefers in each restaurant. Not only that but he seems to know where each place is located. [I’ve seen him give directions to drivers searching for his restaurants of choice] Australia and New Zealand have had a longtime love affair with Carlos and Santana and it will continue, I’m certain, with our next stop in Melbourne.

Hal Miller
Melbourne, Australia