4-18-99 ---Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, CA

Date:    Mon, 19 Apr 1999 03:22:05 -0700
From:    Charles Dirksen 
Subject: Carlos Santana at the Fillmore

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Just got back from the Fillmore, where Carlos Santana played tonight
(4/18) for approximately 3 hours and 25 minutes, with only a couple
minute break before the five song, 40 minute plus "encore" (something
I didn't recognize, but which was good.. then of course Black Magic
Woman -> Gypsy Queen -> Oye Como Va.. then JINGO!).

As expected, Trey and Page played with Santana and his band, for about
4 songs and 45 or so minutes!  It was a lot of fun watching Trey play
along with Carlos (I was also, fortunately, only a few feet away from
him).  He was clearly having a blast (I mean, can you imagine JAMMING
WITH CARLOS SANTANA AT THE FILLMORE!?).  Carlos gave both Trey and
Page solos in every song, too, I think.  Very cool.  And both Page and
Trey played very well! I felt a bit sorry for Trey a few times,
though.  He played some excellent, beautiful solos.. and then Carlos
would rip something out, effortlessly, with his eyes closed (and while
moving around), that made Trey's cool solo sound like a god damn
nursery rhyme.  I recognized three of the songs that Trey and Page
jammed on with Santana, but forget the name of two of them (these
weren't "Greatest Hits".. but were frequently played in the 80s, I
think).  The other tune they played on was "Everbody's Everything,"
and it was **huge**. =^]  FWIW, I strongly recommend Santana's
Greatest Hits disc, which should be able to pick up used for about $5.

Carlos' current band is a LOT more incredible than I expected.  The
musicians he's got with him right now are all jaw-dropping amazing,
IMO.  Rodney Holmes on drums (he's spectacular! jazz trained..),
Chester Thompson on organ (from Tower of Power!), Bennie Rietveld on
bass (Victor Wooten, stand aside; this guy played with Miles on his
1988 tour!), Raoul Rekow and Karl Perazzo on percussion (!!!), and
Tony Lindsay on vocals (GREAT voice, and only a modest dose of

I've only seen a few Santana shows (since I first saw him in the late
'80's), but tonight's show was EASILY the best.  He didn't preach that
much (about the only absolute truth -- that we are all One), and
played spiritedly the whole evening.  He was also moving around the
stage and smiling a lot, and appeared to be having a great time. A
friend of mine was at Friday's gig and said that Carlos wasn't too
active.  My guess is that he picked things up this evening, given
Trey, Page, and all of the other special guests (including two other
good guitarists!).  The show tonight still wasn't as amazing as the
live Santana shows I've heard from the 1970's.  It's not that he's off
his game -- he's still got to be one of the greatest guitarists the
world has ever known, of course -- it's just that he's more mellow
overall (which is I guess to be expected.. he's what, 52 years old!?).

In the past, I'd been left rather unsatisfied by Carlos's live shows.
They just seemed too tight, and contained too many weak new tunes, and
not enough of his Classics.  Not enough jamming/improv.  Tonight's gig
had a lot of songs that I hadn't heard before, to be sure, but they
were ALL -- every single one -- danceable to... and most were pretty
damn good!  Seeing the legendary Carlos Santana (not to mention Trey)
at work from only a few feet away made this show priceless.  There
were also several 8+ minute songs with good jam segments, too.  Plenty
to dance to (in spite of the fact that 90% of the people there were
probably 30+ and apparently in no mood to dance.. and didn't dance..
even though, IMO, the music DEMANDED it).

There were also a zillion guests.  Trey and Page came out 4 songs into
the show (as already noted) and played along for about 45 minutes. But
another hour hadn't even gone by when some other guitarist was invited
on stage (I didn't catch his name.. it frankly sounded like "Santana,"
of all things..  I didn't recognize him.. he wasn't that great, imo..
but it was amusing to watch him play along with Carlos!). During Oye
Como Va (Oye Como Va and Jingo closed the show), the hot sorta-new
band OZOMATLI came out and jammed with them for the rest of the gig.
It was EXCELLENT!!  I will have to check out this band's live show,
for sure!

Santana will be playing this summer with this configuration (Holmes,
Perazzo, Rietveld, etc.), so I'd strongly recommend checking him out.
I think Ozomatli will be opening for them, too, in August onward (if
you can believe it, Santana is opening for [expletive] Dave Matthews
Band for almost every May/June show on their tour!).

It would still be worth it to see the legendary Carlos Santana, imo,
even if you could only see him open for (shiver) Dave "I sound like a
cat being strangled to death" Matthews.

(I have no idea whether this Fillmore show was stealth-taped.. don't
have tapes, but certainly wish that I did)

two cents,

p.s.  Santana will be playing Jazzfest on the 23rd and the 24th.
Check out http://www.santana.com/OnTour/ for summer tour info.

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