It’s not everyday that you get to see not just one, but 3 legendary acts in one with combined careers spanning over a century. Guitar virtuoso Carlos Santana, along with The Doobie Brothers and our own Russell Morris, delivered an epic experience at Botanic Park last night despite the threat of rain dampening the concert, but fortunately even that couldn’t have taken away from the sheer brilliance of the acts on stage.
As the rain drizzled down on the eager crowd, Russell Morris kicked off with a blend of old and new songs spanning his 40 odd year career. Classics such as Wings of an Eagle, Hush, and of course the anthemic Real Thing still hadn’t lost their lustre, with Morris being in fine voice for a man who admittedly ‘smoked a lot of dope’ in his time. He set the scene for a real 60’s revival of an evening, but the best was yet to come.
Old school rockers The Doobie Brothers pulled no punches, launching with Jesus Is Just Alright, & continued with Rockin Down The Highway. Original guitarist/vocalist Tom Johnston had energy to burn and punched through a setlist that showcased the bands diversity playing blues, R&B, and of course rock. These well seasoned guys have sold over 40 million records during their 50 year career, and still know how to entertain.
They had the crowd on their feet grooving by the end of their set, so of course an encore was warranted and their hit song Listen To The Music was more of a command than a song title. Johnston’s guitar licks were impressive, and with the band’s overall tightness they would be a hard act to follow. That is unless, of course, you are Carlos Santana.
In a fitting opening to one of the world’s most influential and iconic music figures, images from the 1969 Woodstock Festival where Santana made their mark played on the screens, setting the scene for the experience to follow. It was an earthy, psychedelic feel from the stat. The smell of incense wafted through the air, permeating to at least where we were seated in the first 10 rows. You could easily close your eyes and feel the vibe of the hippy era, and Carlos Santana certainly keeps that flame burning. Santana, the band, are incredibly energetic, full of colour and life. There’s an almost ‘trance’ aura about them, combining that mesmerising Latino percussion, the constant beat, and of course the unmistakable sound of Carlos Santana’s guitar. Cindy Blackman Santana, who happens to be the wife of the man himself, stood out on drums and powered through every second of every song in a stellar effort.
Without rattling off the setlist, you can guarantee that every era of his career was covered and all the hits delivered, even a surprise cover of Enya’s Orinoco Flow made it in there. From start to finish, it was a pedal to the metal performance with the odd bit of interaction from Carlos Santana. The focus was on the experience, and a celebration of all things good. If only we’d learned from the original hippies, we might very well be living in different times. At least for Santana, the band and the man himself, they get to emanate that essence every time they perform, using the stage as their medium to get that point across. This wasn’t just a concert, no, this was a trip back in time (no pun intended) and a superb flashback the days of free love, drugs, peace….and great music!
Photo Gallery to come!