Review: Santana surprises during sold-out show
REVIEW BY JOHN BERGER / email@example.com
Hawaii witnessed a first last night when expatriate islander Benny Reitveld — on stage playing bass with Santana at Blaisdell Arena — took a solo. At first the notes seemed random but then they became a recognizable tune. Reitveld was playing “Waimanalo Blues” on electric bass.
Reitveld’s surprising solo was one of several especially memorable moments in an powerful performance by the Grammy Award-winning guitarist and his band. Playing in Blaisdell Arena — and therefore free of the early curfew and low decibel levels imposed on musicians at the Waikiki Shell — Santana and his musicians were able to play as long and as loud as they wanted. Santana took the stage shortly after 8 p.m. and played well past 10:45 — two-and-a-half hours give or take a couple of minutes. What’s more, it was tremendous high-energy show, and a high-decibel show for most of the evening as well.
Reitveld’s solo came during a show-within-a-show segment that spotlighted his talents on bass and the talents of Santana’s wife, Cindy Blackman-Santana, on drums. Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, Blackman-Santana is a tremendous drummer. She earned the standing ovation she received several times over.
There was yet another surprise for Honolulu when Santana began talking about the beauty of the ukulele and then brought out Brittni Paiva to be his featured guest on a hapa-haole arrangement of “Samba Pa Ti.” What a career highlight for her!
Santana touched on the Hawaii’s musical traditions much later in the show when he slipped the melody of “Aloha ‘Oe” into a longer instrumental arrangement.
Santana played several of his “must do” pop hits — “Black Magic Woman,” “Oye Como Va” and “Europa” — early in the show. All three were beautifully done in high-impact arena-concert arrangements. “Evil Ways” came much later in the show, and a powerhouse rendition of “Smooth” got just about everyone in the arena standing and moving to the music.
A 15-minute encore number began as “Soul Sacrifice” and then evolved into an impressive demonstration of the individual talents of Santana’s musicians — the horn section’s take on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” was especially noteworthy.
The concert experience was enhanced by the excellent work of the video camera crew. Three projection screens provided close-up views of what the musicians were doing. The close-ups of Santana’s fingering and fret-work were fascinating even for the fans in the seats down front. Several songs were also embellished by footage of vintage performances that included the original Santana band at Woodstock.
When Santana talked to the crowd — and, yes, the concert wasn’t only about his music — he talked about spiritual things such the balance between men and women, the positive results of being in Hawaii (“You start playing, you don’t know how to play, and I mean that it a good way”), and, referring to the upcoming retirement of Pope Benedict XVI, “we don’t need a middleman to get to the center of your own [spiritual] light.”
“If you remember anything about this night,” Santana said, “Please remember that this Mexican said ‘You are significant, you are meaningful, and you can make a difference in the world.”
All going well, everyone who enjoyed the music of Carlos Santana last night will remember his words today.
John Berger has been a mainstay in the local entertainment scene for more than 40 years. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.