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Viva Santana!

14 May 2006 / 0 Comments / in music and gigs
On Saturday, as the first day of my exhibition closed Moth and I jumped in the car and took my 12-year-old son Rupert to see guitar legend Carlos Santana and his band play to a sold out Wembley Arena.

After a long day meeting more than 90 people and talking about my pictures, I could’ve really done with a quite night in, but it’s not that often Santana plays the UK and in any case we’d been looking forward to it for six months! Luckily we had tickets only 17 rows back from the massive stage.

Rupert had never been to anything like this before and was wowed by pretty much everything from the start! Moth and I both thought it took the band about 45 minutes to really get into it, but once they had, they were jaw-dropping.

I’m a sucker for percussion and rhythm so I was in my element with three drummers on stage – playing a variety of traditional and Latino kits measuring metres across the stage, their grooves providing the base on which everything else hung. It was impossible not to enjoy this.

All Santana’s musicians were geniuses, but I particularly enjoyed the keyboard player who played soulful blues, funk and big chunky chords as if his life depended on it. The young vocalist had terrific stage presence and bounded all over the stage without taking away anything from the star of the show, Carlos Santana.

The man is, rightly, a guitar legend. His riffs and tunes have stirred my soul and make my heart burst with joy ever since I first heard his album ‘Moonflower’ when I was about 16 years old. I have yet to tire of it.

The giant screen meant everyone could see the action no matter where they sat, but fortunately we had an amazing view.

Weaving together the Latino sounds of his native Mexico with soulful blues he made a name for himself in the late 1960s before releasing his 1970 masterpiece ‘Abraxas’. Not having this album in your collection should be made a criminal offence. From this album, last night he played my very favourite, ‘Black Magic woman/Gypsy queen’, which morphed into ‘Oye como va’. The audience went crazy!

There is something completely universal about his music and this was reflected in the demographic of the audience last night. Children younger than my son to people well into their 70s were brought together to celebrate something so much stronger than any religion I know. The only words I can use to describe this music are: sublime, soul, spirit, joy, human, one-ness.

The highlight for me last night was ‘Jingo’ a song with virtually no tune or lyrics at all, but is entirely based on rhythm and chant. As the crowd swung and sang, giant images of a dove were projected on screen.

Viva, Santana! Your music has been the soundtrack to my life (and today provided the soundtrack to another very successful day of Artweeks.)

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