It may have technically been an idyllic outdoor evening at Ravinia, but within seconds of Santana and his massive band blazing into “Soul Sacrifice,” it could’ve easily passed for smack dab in the middle of Saturday at Woodstock. Granted, picnic baskets outweighed pot smoke (even if there was still some occasional sweetness wafting through the air), though when it came to finely chiseled chops, the 68-year-old legend may have actually surpassed his younger years.
However, it was an incendiary stretch through “Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen” and “Oye Como Va” that coaxed absolutely everyone out of their seats, but even as the adulation flowed, Santana deflected the attention to salute Otis Rush and Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater (both in attendance), plus the entire Chicago blues scene for his foundation…
Perhaps that’s because he’s been on the road ever since, including two sold out stops at Ravinia during a tour supporting “Corazón,” his 22nd studio album in a discography that dates back to the summer of ‘69. In spite of “Saideira” not having nearly as much time to be road tested, the brand new tune slid in just fine alongside the classics on Sunday thanks to its scorching Latin rhythms and Santana’s unmistakable licks, as did the latter era’s “Maria Maria,” even as it shifted the mood towards a more acoustic framework.Old or new, everything Santana touched soared, though the same couldn’t be said about a three song set backing hip-hop-leaning/keyboard playing son Salvador and female vocalist Alex Nester, both of whom were the epitome of unremarkable (at least in the context of sharing the stage with a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer). Nonetheless, the headliner far from short-changed fans, extending well beyond two hours as the band jammed through the tribal beats of “Jingo,” the soulful “Evil Ways” and a spicy channeling of John Coltrane’s jazz gem “A Love Supreme” (accompanied by a frequently repeated toast for “peace of mind, good health and joy”).
The veteran also reminded all of his cross generational appeal come “Smooth” (the chart-topper originally cut with Rob Thomas) before encoring with a cover of “Tequila,” cleverly interjected with a shot of The Temptations’ “Get Ready.” However, it was an incendiary stretch through “Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen” and “Oye Como Va” that coaxed absolutely everyone out of their seats, but even as the adulation flowed, Santana deflected the attention to salute Otis Rush and Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater (both in attendance), plus the entire Chicago blues scene for the foundation that’s allowed this undisputed guitar god to prosper through today.
Upcoming concert highlights at Ravinia Festival include Alan Jackson on Monday, August 31; Lenny Kravitz on Thursday, September 3; Sinatra Centennial starring Frank Sinatra Jr. and Ravinia Festival Orchestra on Friday, September 4; Jackson Browne on Saturday, September 5; O.A.R. on Sunday, September 6; Gladys Knight & The O’Jays on Friday, September 11 and Classic Albums Live performs “Led Zeppelin II” on Saturday, September 12. For additional details, visit www.ravinia.org.