Seeing a living musical legend in person can be quite the surreal experience. On occasion, the shows don’t entirely live up to the hype and they tend to leave fans somewhat disappointed as they make their way back home… simply wishing and longing for the chance to see that same show, only 20 or 30 years ago. Subsequently, there are performers like one of the true guitar gods himself, the one and only Carlos Santana. He falls under the category of legends who exceed the narrative; legends who will leave you in utter disbelief of what you just witnessed; legends who put their own tale to shame.
Santana journeyed through St. Louis on July 1st and brought with him the entirety of the Miraculous Supernatural Tour, which included a group as equally iconic — the mighty Earth, Wind & Fire! A band that has been a household name since the late 1960s and a band that has earned every ounce of that success, EWF is still going strong, with founding bassist Verdine White and longtime members Philip Bailey on vocals and Ralph Johnson covering both vocals and percussion. Earth, Wind & Fire learned how to throw a wild party decades ago and have only perfected it since. From the opening chord to the final bow, this group of musicians had the entire crowd out of their seat and dancing to the beat like it was an episode of Soul Train. Don Cornelius himself couldn’t have directed the night any better. It was all about soul and the love of music that evening, and Earth, Wind & Fire epically sparked the flame that was about to engulf the show for the rest of the night. Up next was Santana.
It was a hurricane of drums and percussion.
It was a set of lightning-quick fingers, dancing across black and white keys. A whirlwind of maracas, tambourines and whistles, all giving way to one of the most epic guitar solos I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing in person. Out of the storm walked the man himself — Carlos Santana — absolutely shredding his gold PRS guitar, rocking the fedora and everything. I mean come on, this was like the pages out of one of my dad’s old vinyls coming to life! Right before my eyes and everything! I’m telling you, this encounter was nothing short of one for the history books.
After a minor-level freak out, I came back to the land of the living and was really able to appreciate the experience for what it was. The way Santana exists onstage is something magical. The level of understanding he has for his music, coupled with the way he is able to lead and direct his entire band onstage, left me speechless. He is constantly on the move, walking back and forth from stage left to right, communicating and governing who is about to crush the next level of solos. All the while, filling in the downtime with monstrous solos of his own. One of his musicians who owned just as much of the night as the man in charge was his better half — the woman in charge, if you will — Cindy Blackman Santana playing the drums. Scratch that… she was owning the drums. Cindy Blackman Santana is next level. The chemistry she and her husband have onstage leaves so many doors open for her just to manipulate the time and space around her in a fantastic fashion. It really was a night of legends that will live on in my brain long after the curtain has fallen, long after the truss has come down and the trucks have been loaded.
If you have yet to embrace the opportunity to cross this show off of your bucket list, I highly recommend taking the chance while it still exists. The Miraculous Supernatural Tour is still rolling across the country and is hellbound to share as much love, peace and soul to as many people as they can!
Photography by Thomas Semonco