— Photos and Review by Keith Brake
Hello Midwest Rewind world, I hope you are all healthy and happy! My latest adventures with camera and pen find me at The Hollywood Casino Amphitheater for an outstanding pairing of artists, The Doobie Brothers and Santana. This day was beautiful as was the crowd, I could tell right away we were all in for a “Smooth” night.
The Doobie Brothers started the evening and from the very first note people were dancing in the aisles. I think The Doobies are one of those bands that will never go out of style, it seems their catalogue of hits have always and always will stand up to father time. “China Grove
, “Black Water”, “Listen To The Music” and SO many more. The quality of delivery both vocally and instrumentally leave nothing to be desired; consistently sounding great after all these years. The crowd was in sing-along mode for most of this set which I understand because I reminded myself how hard it is to sing and take photos. Truth be told The Doobie Brothers could easily carry an entire evening on their shoulders with their catalogue but this night was set to highlight the Legendary Carlos Santana.
Peace signs slowly floated above and on the stage while photos and videos of Woodstock rolled on the screens at the rear of the stage. Kongos, maracas, horns and various other instruments laid in wait for their masters as the anticipation grew within the crowd. Fans in the front row traded stories of when and where they last saw Carlos. When the house lights dropped Hollywood Casino Amphitheater erupted. The legendary guitarist appeared on stage with his golden PRS guitar and Santana “church” had begun. Carlos is as good of a guitarist as one could hope to hear and he has an amazing band at his side.
I have a confession to make, I am not a huge Santana fan; in fact I am not familiar with his songs beyond the ones that received radio play. With that said, Carlos has been entertaining the masses since Wooodstock sending his message of love and peace and he still feels the same…an incredible and respectable feat for any artist. Santana has been known to address political views during concerts but on this night it was focused solely on three things – music, love and fun. At one point Carlos addressed the large and diverse crowd and said “This is Mr. King’s dream, we are all the dream”. I found so much power in that one statement alone, nothing more needed to be said. As I watched the evening unfold it was obvious that a Santana show is unlike any other I have been to. While the stage production and light show constantly remind you that you are at a big concert there were moments that it felt small and intimate, like the entire crowd was one big family.
As I stated above, the band accompanying Santana is top notch and quite entertaining. Carlos gave each member a time to shine and showcase their skills most of all his wife, Cindy Blackman, on drums. During the encore Cindy kicked into a drum solo for the ages mixing various beats and techniques that fused together to create pure awesome power…hands down one of the best drum solos I have ever watched. If you are a devout Santana fan Carlos and his band are everything you would want them to be live. If you are wanting to see what all the Santana lore is about this tour is for you as well, they are holding nothing back it seems and the quality of the performance is second to none. In the words of one VERY excited fan as he exited the show “I went to a concert and a world class party broke out!”