It’s not often you get to see an iconic artist in an iconic venue. This past Saturday night, the old adage I hit two birds with one stone applies here. Seeing Santana at Woodstock would apply here. Even though Santana has graced this stage at Bethel Woods previously (the last time in 2014), it still has that feeling that it’s thee show to go to. In fact, regular concert attendees at this venue have said that this show was the most packed for any show they have ever seen there. Santana and his band were ready to deliver the goods to the sold out crowd.
The show starred with a clip of Santana performing at Woodstock on August 16, 1969 before he took the stage playing behind his keyboard player for the opening track O Paradiso. Soon after they jumped into the latest offering “Are You Ready,” a collaboration with the Isley Brothers. The album is called “Power of Peace” that came out last week. Santana, dressed in all white, plays with authenticity that few others can match. His playing is spiritual like and it flowed through his entire set. What was different from the last time I saw him back in 2014, his wife Cindy Blackman is now behind the kit and what a difference it makes. One of the most underrated and underappreciated drummers out there. She even came out to sing a song she wrote for the collaboration with the Isley Brothers called “I Remember.” Santana played right by her side as she sang. Ray Green and Andy Vargas shared vocal duties outside of the Blackman track and have been Santana’s vocalists for a handful of years now. They moved about keeping the crowd moving and energetic as Santana channeled his playing through them and the rest of his band.
Of course, what’s a show at Bethel without mentioning what took place almost 48 years ago. Santana can look back and poke fun at himself as he played the show under the influence of acid. He regrets doing it but at that time, it was what everyone was doing and experimenting with. Those days are long gone as Santana is a totally different person and is all about positivity through spirituality. He talked about how everyone matters. He said it’s about making the table bigger and the wall smaller. “We are one family and one heart” he mimicked. I think this message rang through as you can see the people get lost in the music and transform themselves to a place where they could enjoy themselves.
The 2 hour and 15 minutes show was masterpiece in a setting that is a 2nd home for Santana. He often mentioned Woodstock throughout his set . His playing is still a force to be recon with and the setlist really was true snapshot of the career work that Santana has done. Whether its Woodstock or Anchorage, Alaska, Santana’s playing transcends wherever he goes.
Are You Ready
Love Makes the World Go ‘Round (Deon Jackson cover)
Corazon Espinado (Santana Featuring Mana song)
Jingo (Babatunde Olatunji cover)
Evil Ways (Willie Bob cover)
A Love Supreme (John Coltrane cover)
Higher Ground (Stevie Wonder cover)
Total Destruction to Your Mind (Swamp Dog cover)
Black Magic Woman (Fleetwood Mac cover)
Gypsy Queen (Gabor Szabo cover)
Oye como va
Love, Peace and Happiness (The Chambers Brothers cover)
The Highest Good
We would like to thank both Eric Cook from Jensen Communications and Julie Kaufman from Bethel Woods for the credentials to review the show.