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Road blog: Santana: The Surprise Factor (San Diego 9/30/08)

Before every concert, Carlos Santana prepares a song list that is
distributed to each member of the band. That list is a reflection of
various elements and one of the most important of these is whim. Yes,
sometimes Carlos decides to play a particular song simply because he’s
in that kind of mood, or, not unusually, because someone during the day
has suggested or asked for it.
To be sure, there are other considerations. As one might expect, there
are certain must-play songs-e.g. Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen”, “Oye
Como Va”,”Smooth”, and “Maria Maria”et al-whose absence might well
provoke a minor revolt at the very least from hardcore Santana fans.
And then there are some songs that are just beginning to develop and
whose potential excites both Carlos and the band.
Not to be forgotten is the fact that chief chef Santana often
likes to have a surprise on the evening menu just to keep the band, and
himself, from getting too complacent or predictable.
So far the present Live Your Light Tour has found Santana
revisiting past tour favorites such as “Sacalo”[which features a sax
solo from Salvador Santana band saxophonist Jose”Crunchy”Espinosa],
“Brotherhood” a staple of the1980s and 1990s, and “Everybody’s
Everything” now including fiery solo outings from rhythm guitarist
Tommy Anthony.
“Curacion” has proved to be a crowd favorite and a nice
change-of-pace from some of the more outgoing numbers. “Umi Says” has
been combined with “Sunshine Day” to provide feature spots for
vocalists Tony Lindsay and Andy Vargas-both of whom recently celebrated
birthdays on consecutive days, incidentally.
Undoubtedly the song that has provoked the most questions has been
“Marco Polo”, a Japanese folklike instrumental that Carlos has taken a
powerful liking to. Much like some past duo pieces -e.g. “Goodness and
Mercy”, “Blues For Salvador”, and  “Wings of Grace”-, “Marco Polo” is a
center-stage tour de force for Carlos Santana and keyboardist Chester
Thompson with the rest of the band joining in as the musical magic

And just when you thought you knew everything there was to know about
Santana, Carlos introduces a new kind of country & western, reggae,
and church song, “Peace, Light, Love, Joy”, with Tommy Anthony taking
the lead vocal. Santana and country & western? Go figure, but then
go listen. If you’re anything like the thousands who’ve heard it since
its initial outing in Texas, you’ll like it.
In a few hours the band will take the stage in Chula Vista, Ca. [just
outside of San Diego].  Who knows what’s on tonight’s song list? Maybe
like last night, Carlos will surprise the band by going into a
song-i.e. “Europa”-that isn’t even on the song list.
Stay tuned.

Hal Miller
San Diego

"CarlosSantana.Ru" 2007