By Clare McCabe
Artist: Santana / Steve Miller Band
Date: Tuesday March 19th, Vector Arena, Auckland
Luckily I checked setlist times prior to arriving at Vector last night as Steve Miller Band were on quite early at 7.00pm followed by Santana at 9.00pm sharp (please return to your seats..... Carlos Santana will be starting in 10 minutes)... Vector Arena seemed to be at pretty much full capacity with seating in the main floor area as well as upstairs.
Ah Steve Miller Band - all those old favourites came out including Abracadabra, Fly Like An Eagle and Jet Airliner. My particular favorites were The Joker (never gets old) and another tune The Window which Steve claimed to have reintroduced to his set after some 30 years of not playing it live. Steve was on form with his guitar playing and he was ably supported by the rest of the band. Special mention goes to the legendary singer/dancer Mr Sonny Charles with his fabulous dance moves - he totally encouraged the audience to fully participate at each step.
And then came Santana. Must say I have not seen that many people together on stage all playing at once for a long time - so much action to take in. Guitars, three drum kits/percussion set-ups (THREE), keyboards, a very enthusiastic bass player and even a horn section. And the man himself Santana. Singers Tony and Andyhandled the tunes between them (and often together) - they have quite different styles of singing but blend together in all the right ways. The band as a whole performed like a close family and totally looked like they were having a load of fun playing together.
Black Magic Woman was an early highlight (and crowd-pleaser) - always great to hear something so classic being played out live right in front of you. Another favourite was Smooth with both singers joining in enthusiastically on this one for Rob Thomas' vocals and the audience reacting accordingly.
Further standouts were Maria Maria and Sexy.
Santana spent a fair amount of time doing what he does best - playing that damn guitar and playing it his way. No need to go into any further detail on his talent - it was obvious everyone was there because of him and were totally enjoying every note.
Steve Miller was welcomed back to the set for a few tunes and was given centre stage with Santana moving to the side to let him give it his all - with the boys singing back-up.
So many different styles of music to taken in - and loved the fabulous montage of shots from Woodstock and various other festivals that Santana has played at over their career.
The audience were again in full participation mode especially downstairs - singing/dancing and swaying along to various tunes, despite it being a totally seated event. Even Santana himself was in the swing of things with his own dancing. Oh and we must not forget the fabulous Cindy Blackman Santana (who previously played with Lenny Kravitz for many years). Her drum solo must have lasted at least 10 minutes - the bass player couldn't even keep up with her, and Santana joined in with a little cameo on percussion.
Best line from the night from Santana in the midst of his welcoming speech - "The Fillmore was my alma mater" - indeed. What a humble, inspiring man. And then the white dove flew across the screen and Carlos Santana exited stage right. Thanks Santana for a great performance - I am now a total convert to your music. - see you next time you guys return to our city.
And lastly just a word of warning when attending concerts - if you don't like loud music, probably best not to get a FRONT ROW seat.... I think the guy seated next to me was in the wrong place as he spent the whole of the Steve Miller Band set with his fingers in his ears - really? Funnily enough he was noticeably absent when Santana took to the stage