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Santana Concert Review
Black Magic
By Ram Samudrala
(more articles from this author)
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More than anything else, Santana's music has always been simply beautiful to me. While there are many artists whose talents I admire, Santana's music appeals to me on a much more emotive level. So I, along with my mentor, decided to check him out the Chronicle Pavilion in Concord, CA.

Most of my love for his music comes purely from the melodic guitar solos. Not only do I feel I can predict where his guitar solos will go but they literally give me goose pimples. It's hard for me (as an intellectual) to explain the effect the notes he plays has on me, but it's fascinating on many different levels. For some reason, the combination of notes he plays, as well as his attack and decay times, resonate with my ear drums.

I wasn't disappointed at all with the selections and his guitar work throughout the show. He was in fine form and shone to a backdrop of a fusion of rock, latin, and hip-hop music (though I could've done without the whole Limp Bizkit-styled "Santana's in the house" lyrics). The best moments for me were when he sometimes had "conversations" with the guitar (where after a lyric, a short guitar lick is played and this process is iterated). A pioneer in this area, along with the likes of Jimi Hendrix, David Gilmour, and Mark Knopfler, the short melodies that flowed were soaring and awe-inspiring.

The set consisted of new tunes like Put Your Lights On, Supernatural Thing, Love of my Life, Maria Maria, and, of course, Smooth. The encore was really long and included Black Magic Woman, Oye Como Va, and Jingo; in addition, Santana spent a fair amount of time introducing the band and giving them a chance in the spot light. Throughout the show, he was quite content to step back a bit and let his entourage share the limelight.

The band was very tight and provided great support for the guitar wizard. In particular, the three percussionists were incredible together. There was a brief moment when another guitarist came on stage and finger-picked an acoustic guitar with much more grace than Santana himself, and that simply blew me away! We had missed the opening act, Ozomatli, but some of the members came and played with Santana for a bit. The visuals, particularly the circular screen, were trippy.

The show was so inspiring to me that the first thing I did when I got back was record some guitar solos for the newest song that I was working on. Don't miss out on a chance to check out this rock legend.

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