Monday, August 14, 2000
Santana subs voices on 'Supernatural' hits
By Larry Nager
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Success hasn't spoiled Carlos Santana, but it hasn't helped him much, either.
Saturday night, the guitar great returned to Riverbend riding the biggest hit of his 30-something year career. His 1999 album, Supernatural, swept this year's Grammys and dominated rock radio with Smooth (co-written by former Cincinnatian Itaal Shuur) and Maria Maria.
So instead of his usual half-capacity crowd, he and his band sold out the pavilion and packed the lawn. And instead of having to watch his audience fidget through most of the night waiting for Black Magic Woman and Oye Como Va, he had a whole bunch of new hits to play for them.
But it was still a Santana concert, his patented mix of spirituality and raw, earthy rhythms. When he arrived onstage he first acknowledged the presence of the invisible ones (angels). Then it was time to dip into Supernatural, as he and his nine-man band played the album's first three songs in order (Da Le) Yaleo, Love of My Life and Put Your Lights On.
The problem was, when you do an all-star collaboration like Supernatural, you can't tour with the original singers. So, while Tony Lindsay and Andy Vargas alternated lead vocals and sang well and soulfully, they sounded absolutely nothing like Dave Matthews and Everlast, who recorded the latter two songs, respectively.
As a result, though Mr. Santana spun off beautiful guitar solos filled with his trademark fire and tone and his Santana band was the same group that played on the album, it still sounded like a cover band doing someone else's hits.
It was most obvious on the most familiar songs, Smooth and Maria Maria. But some of the best moments in a Santana show come when the guitarist and his world-class band just tear the roof off. They blew Smooth completely apart, first playing it just like the record, then turning it into a traditional salsa, all blazing percussion and fiery horns. It was one of the best moments of the night.
But his newfound success has failed to tighten up his show. Too much of the two-hour-20-minute performance merely meandered. Bassist Benny Rietveld, drummer Billy Johnson, conga player Raul Rekow and timbale player Karl Perazzo were all given lengthy solo spots that showed off their skill while adding nothing to the overall show. Of course, at 53, Mr. Santana may just have needed a break.
Another stretch that went on too long featured opening act Macy Gray and her group joining Santana in what became a chaotic chantalong. Hometown funk hero Bootsy Collins, who never misses a Santana concert, made an appearance here.
The encores returned Santana to top form, with the brooding power of Black Magic Woman and the best example of Mr. Santana's fusion of guitar heroics and Afro-Cuban beats, the late Tito Puente's Oye Como Va.
And whether it was all those Grammys or just the pressure of the election year, but the ordinarily gentle, apolitical guitarist spoke up in his encore to endorse Al Gore and bluntly tell the crowd (amid considerable booing from the largely middle-aged, Republican audience), Anyone who votes for (George W.) Bush is either an Uncle Tom or a fool.
Raspy-voiced Macy Gray and her 12-piece band opened with a set of organic R&B that mixed Memphis soul and George Clinton funk with touches of hip-hop. But despite her considerable stage presence, her set never really took off.
Fort Washington Way reopens
Underground railroad stopped here
Fetal-death law used in I-74 crash
Lucas' absence clouds delegation
CROWLEY: Dems: Back your party
Filmmakers focus on Ohio delegates
WILKINSON: Ohio needs new stars
Convention schedule of events
Manhunt over after police arrest suspect
SAMPLE: Virtual colleges get in spirit
Education summit convened
Educators' fight may cost schools
Hamilton man creates pioneer memorial
Maccabi Games bring athletes here
Med students tend to inner-city ailments
Results of our news poll
Tournament keeps slain teen's dream alive
Channel 12's Adler initiated safe baby program
GET TO IT
Pig Parade: Pigskin
Santana subs voices on 'Supernatural' hits
Body mass has little to do with limb length
Use buddy system to manage weight
Vitamin supplements should be monitored
Campus buildings holding OSU art
Clifton fountain fund grows
Funds don't change farmers
Hamilton councilman wants swap shops regulated
Locksmith comes to rescue
Workout was worth it: trash team made money