Road Blog – (10/14/08) Live Your Light Tour (The Surprises Never End)

Take the average band nearing the end of a five-week tour and you’d have every right to expect some slippage, a lessening of intensity and a tendency to go on automatic pilot. None of this is intentional but five weeks of a nomadic existence playing the same songs night after night simply take a toll.
Take the Santana Band nearing the end of a five-week tour and you’ll probably see and hear the band at its very best. Why, because after forty years in the music business, Carlos Santana understands the rigors of the road and consistently does his utmost to prepare the band and himself to give their very best every time out. One way he keeps the band fresh and dynamic is by having pre-concert soundchecks even after more than a month of performances. Another technique Carlos employs is the juggling of the songlist so that different sequences- as well as new songs- keep the band from easing into any comfort zones.

The last week of the Santana 2008 Live Your Light Tour illustrated all the aforementioned, and the results – if the comments of concertgoers are to be believed- were outstanding. Old friends –i.e. songs – such as Migra (San Diego), Don’t Take Your Love Away and Love Theme from ‘Spartacus”(Las Vegas), Serpents & Doves, Somewhere In Heaven, Africa Bamba, & Praise (Santa Barbara) were welcome surprises.

When the band played a corporate show in Las Vegas on 10/7/08, vocalist Sheryl Crow joined the band for two numbers, The Game of Love and the venerable –and still rockin’ – Motown hit Heat Wave (!).

Longtime Santana fans are well aware of Carlos Santana’s respect and admiration for the music of jazz giants Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Indeed, it is the rare concert wherein Carlos does not make a musical allusion to these  and other heroes by injecting bits of melody from songs associated with them-e.g. My Favorite Things, Afro-Blue, Milestones, et al. Throughout this tour he delighted, surprised and,probably, befuddled listeners with additional quotes from other songs. Examples of this were his melody visits to South of The Border (Frank Sinatra), In A Sentimental Mood (Duke Ellington), Greensleeves (traditional), and ‘Round Midnight (Thelonious Monk). Of particular interest is the fact that the entire melody of the old R’n’B standard All In The Game (Tommy Edwards) has a prominent and seemingly permanent place in the ballad section of Incident at Neshabur. Yes, the surprises keep coming.
 Attendees of the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, Ca, were treated to a very special surprise when former Santana keyboardist and co-composer of Europa Tom Coster joined the band for a memorable rendition of this song.
By the time the last note had been played at the Concord show on 10/12/08, there was no doubt in the minds of the band members or crew that Live Your Light 2008 had been a triumphant experience, one that traversed the entirety of the United States and included much of Europe, with an initial stop in Dubai.
The Santana Band comprised of Chester Thompson, Benny Rietveld, Dennis Chambers, Raul Rekow, Karl Perazzo, Tommy Anthony, Andy Vargas, Tony Lindsay and, of course, Carlos Santana found and maintained the magic, the intensity and the joy throughout the entire year, and to all of you who saw them and to those who didn’t their message is “Wait Until Next Year!”.