Santana European Tour – Final Week

As the Santana European tour enters its final week here in Milan, the band seems to have found new energy and new ways to delight the audiences who have been turning out in substantial numbers all through the tour.

Beginning in Manchester, England on May 11th, the band has been performing “Cry, Baby, Cry” from All That I Am almost nightly with vocalist Carla Holbrook from the Salvador Santana Band more than ably delivering in the Joss Stone role as she duets with Andy Vargas. This one has been a big crowd pleasere.

It will come as no surprise to veteran Santana followers that the Paris concert was one of the tour highlights. Paris, home of many African bands that routinely tour Europe, almost always provides Carlos with the opportunity to invite some of his personal musical favorites to join the band onstage. The May 15th show at Bercy was no exception and vocalist-percussionist Idrissa Diop and vocalist Cheb Kaleb both inspired and excited the 16,000+ in attendance-not to mention Santana itself.

The Frankfurt show saw Carlos’ nephew guitarist Carlos Hernandez [from the Brothers CD] joining the band for a spirited rendition of “Batuka/No One To Depend On” and later during that same concert the band performed possibly for the first time on stage “Wild Tribes” from one of the Carlos Santana-Paolo Rustichelli collaborations.

The nation of Germany continues to be solid Santana country year after year. This fact was celebrated just before the band went on stage in Munich when the German BMG reps presented each member of the band a plaque in recognition of 100,000 units of All That I Am sold in Germany alone in 2006.

Early concert attendees have been getting an extra and unannounced thrill as Carlos has been joining the Salvador Santana Band for their final two numbers, with percussionist Karl Perazzo and vocalist Andy Vargas also assisting on one.

More and more various fans and attending musicians have commented on the outstanding rhythm-guitar work of Tommy Anthony.  Tommy has been a hit in the band as well as a personal favorite of drummer Dennis Chambers who routinely refers to him as “Mr. Time”, a salute to his unflagging and driving rhythmic role in the band. High praise from a high source, indeed. Those of you not that familiar with Tommy will recognize him instantly on stage: he’s the big guy with the big grin who’s obviously having the time of his life. When asked about his joyous demeanor on stage, Tommy replied:” Man, I’m getting to play with my idol, the source of my earliest inspiration, and in addition I’m working with the finest collection of musicians I’ve ever played with! Why wouldn’t I be smiling?”

With a concert scheduled for tonight in Milan and the Rock-In-Lisbon show in Portugal on June 2nd there will undoubtedly be more highlights and more surprises for this is the nature of Santana. Those who plan to see the band during its second tour of Europe commencing in early July- with re-scheduled dates for Oberhausen and Leipzig added, incidentally – have a special treat in store for them so BE PREPARED!

Hal Miller