Santana livens up the Pavilion

A review of Carlos Santana at the Bank of America Pavilion on July 17, 2012

, Managing Editor

Carlos Santana is renowned as one of the greatest guitarists of all-time, and he did plenty to back that up during his show at the Bank of America Pavilion. Touring behind a new instrumental album, Shape Shifter, Santana’s masterful playing was very much the focus of the evening.

After famously rejuvenating his career at the end of the 90’s, with continued success for much of the early 2000’s thanks to pop collaborations, Santana has stayed off the charts in recent years. The legendary guitarist has gone through many phases in his career and his set on Tuesday night had elements of all of them. There was Rock, Blues, Jazz, Pop, Latin and American influences, and plenty of jamming.

The instrumentals were impressive, but it was the hits, both classic and modern, which got fans out of their seats. The band strung together “Black Magic Woman”, “Oye Como Va” and “Maria Maria” early in the set after beginning the show with instrumentals. After an eclectic middle of the set, Santana then closed it out with the combination of “Evil Ways” and “Smooth”, complete with an extended jam, to the delight of fans.

Santana’s fretwork unsurprisingly drew the biggest awe and ovations but he was surrounded by excellent players as well. Three percussionists boosted his sound, and singers Andy Vargas and Tony Lindsay held their own as they shared vocals while admirably filling the roles made famous by a slew of great singers. Still, the most improvisation from a band member, and maybe even of the night came when Benny Rietveld capped off “Coraz√≥n Espinado” with a bass solo then ended with a beautiful take on John Lennon’s “Imagine”.

The encore pushed the show to nearly three hours, leaving fans fully satisfied. Santana clearly still loves to play and fans will certainly come out to see him whether he’s on the charts or not as the nearly sold-out Bank of America Pavilion was on its feet for a good portion of the show. Santana has had some ups and downs in his long career, but things are still looking up for him these days.

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