Carlos Santana brought his electrifying show to the Jones Beach Theater Sunday night and knocked the socks off of every man, woman and seagull in attendance. Intertwined within the Latin beats were a bit of hip hop, a bit of gospel and a whole lot of rock n roll.
The 11,000 seat outdoor venue offers views of the nearby bay and the rolling Atlantic Ocean beyond. While daylight held, it was the perfect backdrop for Santana’s opener, Steve Winwood. This was especially true during the band’s performance of “Fly” as birds seemed to glide on the sound flowing from the instruments.
Winwood’s set started with little fanfare though he quickly got our attention with such favorites as “Can’t Find My Way Home”, “Higher Love,” and “Gimme Some Lovin’.” In fact, the crowd leapt to its feet during the first few notes of “Gimme Some Lovin” and responded with wild applause as it ended. Winwood took his bows as the audience reluctantly watched him leave the stage.
Winwood’s entire set included “Secrets”, “Fly”, “Dirty City”, “Can’t Find My Way Home”, “The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys”, “Empty Pages”, “Higher Love”, “Dear Mr. Fantasy” and “Gimme Some Lovin'”. Samples of each song can be found here: http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/steve-winwood/2010/nikon-at-jones-beach-theater-wantagh-ny-7bd4662c.html
While the stage was cleared, a woman came out and welcomed us to the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater.
She then announced that tickets for the Jonas Brothers were available in the lobby for a limited time for $10. She was promptly booed. “All right then, they’re a hundred dollars!” she snapped and walked off.
During intermission, the sun sneaked away behind us, leaving the venue and the stunning views behind it dark. Suddenly the stage burst into light and sound as Carlos Santana- backed by ten musicians- rocked the packed house with his opening number, “(Da Le) Yaleo”, the music punctuated by explosive lights. The song swelled and ended. Standing at the mic, guitar strapped to him, Santana waited for the cheers to die down to give his greeting: “We have good news! God guarantees a happy outcome for everyone!”
I didn’t see that coming. But OK. He went on to tell us that there were a lot of big names with us that night. “Clive Davis- where are you? We love you, we cherish you!” Hmm. OK, again. Other big names he was referring to were there to perform as The Product G&B joined Santana on stage for the second song of the night, “Maria Maria”, a hip hop/Latin number.
The impressive band members were each given the spotlight at some point during the show, displaying their considerable talents. Carlos Santana may have the most recognizable name in the group, but he often dropped back, away from the lights, allowing the other musicians to shine. I found myself looking for him a few times and finally recognized the trademark hat, bent over his guitar as his fingers flew.
Carlos Santana has been in the business of making music for more than four decades. Seeing him live is a reminder of why that is so. At 63, his nimble fingers still astound and the music they offer still brings people to their feet. As the band churned out “Smooth,” for instance, most of the audience was up and dancing.
That didn’t surprise me. But something else did. I didn’t expect the show to be as spiritual as it was. Not that it was the focus of the evening, but at one point, Carlos stood at the mic and talked for about five minutes. A sample:
“I’ve been around a long time, I’ve traveled the world and I’ve learned to bring it all together. Be kind to one another. We’re all in this together. But, if you remember only one thing from tonight, let it be this: you are made of light and love. Light and love. What are you made of?” Etc.
I’m OK with that. In a world so full of violence and narcissism it’s nice to hear a man with as big a platform as his speak about compassion and love. It may have come across a bit granola, but let’s not forget that Carlos Santana played Woodstock. I think that’ll keep the granola flowing through your veins for a long time. That’s not a bad thing.
Santana/Steve Winwood is a must-see show and the venue at Nikon at Jones Beach only made it better.
Santana: Raul Rekow, congas/percussion; Benny Rietveld, bass; Freddie Ravel, keyboards; Dennis Chambers, drums; Andy Vargas, vocals; Karl Perazzo, percussion; Bill Ortiz, trumpet; Jeff Cressman, trombone; Tommy Anthony, guitars/vocals; Tony Lindsay, vocals.
Complete set list can be found here: http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/santana/2010/nikon-at-jones-beach-theater-wantagh-ny-73d4662d.html