Tag Archives: Santana
Santana live at Bharatiya E-City
Among the sudden glut of international acts that decided to tour India, Santana was probably the biggest in terms of album sales and radio play received. From playing at Woodstock to having a career revival in the late 90s, Santana has managed to keep their music fresh for most part at least (lets ignore the Chad Kroeger collaboration, shall we?) While his latest outings have been criticized in some circles, theres no denying that the man is an absolute legend. Thus a jaunt to the venue at Thanisandra, my second in two weeks, would have to be undertaken even if it meant cutting work early.
Most Bangalore concert-goers are accustomed to a 8 oclock start so when the emcee welcomed the God of guitar on stage, it was bit of a surprise to see Carlos Santana, flanked by the ten (!) other members of the band, play the opening bars of Yaleo at 7pm. Clad in his trademark hat and a white jacket with PEACE emblazoned on the back, he walked out on stage holding his weapon of choice – the PRS Santana Signature. The acoustics were as good as they could possibly have been, with the sound of each instrument coming in crisply. Instantly groovy and featuring Latin rhythms, Santana played Love is You which contained a quite excellent trombone bit from Jeff Cressman, who went quite blue in the face after the energetic solo.
The backdrop had a large, distracting screen which alternated between montages of Santanas older shows and the concert we were witnessing. Just as the track ended, the very familiar intro featuring the sounds of the Hammond organ of Black Magic Woman filtered through, as the yuppie crowd roared and whistled in approval. The tone of the song shifted seamlessly to the booming basslines of Gypsy Queen where the percussionists really shone through and Carlos S. made a liberal use of the wah-wah pedal. The musicians then went off-beat, playing a psychedelic outro before converging on the same note that ended the song and perfectly segued into Oye Como Va. Originally by legendary Latin jazz musician Tito Puente, Santana has made this up-tempo version his own, with an infusion of some blues-influenced guitar solos. The giant screen showed vignettes and snapshots from Bangalore-life as recognizable landmarks like Vidhana Soudha and M.G. Road flashed across the backdrop. The dynamism between all the seasoned musicians on stage was astounding as none of them seemed to miss a note. The two vocalists also played on Güiros, to add to the congas, drums and timbales, giving the song an added spiciness.
The minute an acoustic guitar was brought onto the stage, we all knew what the next song would be. Santanas smash-hit from their best-selling album Supernatural, Maria Maria. Starting with flamenco-influenced acoustic intro and moving to the bluesy electric licks, Carlos Santanas guitar blended perfectly with the two-part vocals as the audience screamed the chorus along with the band. He then introduced his wife Cindy Blackman, a jazz drummer as she replaced the legendary Dennis Chambers for a rousing performance of Corazon Espinado followed by a rather lengthy and tedious drum jam.
My baby, shes playing the drum wearing high heels. Its something we picked up from Prince. – Carlos Santana
The drum solo by Blackman unfortunately meant we wouldnt get to see a drum solo by Chambers as he was content just providing the solid backbone to the frenetic sounds of the band. It was overwhelming to see eleven musicians together on stage, with each getting ample time to shine. There were times during the concert when I wasnt sure which part of the stage I should focus on! The pick of their setlist though was Jingo, full of Afro rhythms, 4-part vocal harmonies and subtle nods to Osibisa and Soul Makossa (which Michael Jackson sampled in Wanna Be Startin Something). They slowed things down with the instrumental piece ‘Samba Pa Ti‘, spotlight shining solely on Carlos Santana who has this ability to start a note a fraction of a second early and then bend the note for eternity. The feel he displayed, especially on his solos was phenomenal.
The crowd, quiet to begin with, was now all warmed up. People moved and hips swayed as the band moved from the classic No one to Depend On to the stompin Everybodys Everything. It was incredible when all the musicians played a repetitive riff for a few bars and then one of them would go on a tangential solo within the boundaries of that very riff. To produce such a cohesive sound takes immense skill, practice and a great sound engineer too !. After an Evil Ways/Love Supreme medley where Carlos delivered a rather …erm lengthy monologue about peace, love and light, they closed out their long set with Smooth. Although vocalists Tony Lindsay and Andy Vargas couldnt quite do justice to Rob Thomass original, every single person in the crowd sang along to drown the band out.
Good music, in my book at least, is defined as something that will move you. Move you to dance, move you to cry, move you to headbang. Listening to Santana play live for two hours did just that. The crowd was moved to dance, sing along and feel the emotion behind songs like Europa and Samba Pa Ti. I dont like a guitar to sound like a guitar. I dont want to hear notes. I want it to sound like life. was what Carlos said in an interview before the concert and he showed us just what he meant.
The background screen displayed footage from the iconic Woodstock concert in 69 just as Santana walked back onto stage performing Soul Sacrifice. Appropriately, they finished their encore with Into the Nightand Toussai LOverture. Two hours and fifteen minutes of non-stop groove, flamenco, Latin rhythms, Afro beats and blues-inspired solos came to an end. Everyone wore wide grins on their faces and headed to their swanky cars, looking completely satisfied.
A day before the concert, I had attended the Santana press conference. Id carried with me a cassette from the 80s – a Santana Greatest Hits tape that my dad used to play on loop when I was a kid, in the vain hope of getting it autographed by the legend himself. Alas, that didnt happen since he was whisked away by his entourage immediately after the brief conference. Crestfallen, I had hoped that the concert experience would make up for this and it did in more ways than I could have wished for.
Bourbon Street at Legends of Rock, Bangalore
Sunday the 7th of August was a cloudy, drizzly evening that had me trudging up the road leading to Legends of Rock, Koramangala. I entered to find the place packed and was told that I might have to stand to listen to the band playing. Legends of Rock seemed like THE place to unwind after a week of hard work at the office; it was also the place to be to share space with a smoking hot band, rather literally considering its cramped and smoke-filled interiors.
I somehow found a seat just in front of the bar and settled down to enjoy an evening of music with Bourbon Street. I was looking forward to hear them play, having sampled their music online, but was a little apprehensive: recording music in a controlled environment is quite different from how you carry yourself in front of an audience.
The band consists of Jerome Mascarenhas (Vocals/Harmonica), Chester Pereira (lead guitars), Fidel D’Souza (bass), Bharath Kumar (Keyboards), Sudhakar Prabhu (Drums) and Ian Castelino (Djembe). The band is often joined by Carnatic violinist Dr. Sangeetha, who performs with the band for the fusion set.
Bourbon Street opened their gig with a rendition of John Scofield’s ‘A go-go’, an instrumental which lent a jazzy feel to the evening. I was glad they didn’t start off with something heavy, having come across artists who’re too eager to please by playing stuff that upsets the mood of the place. This pleasant number was soon followed by Roy Buchanan’s ‘Roy’s Bluz’. Chester doubled up by lending vocals to this song.
Starting off with jazz, Bourbon Street slipped into the comforting sounds of the blues. Chester’s waspy vocals were accompanied by their vocalist Jerome performing harmonica duties. I found myself cheerfully tapping my feet to the music, and I wasn’t alone. The place was suddenly transported back in time and there was no looking back: the audience was hooked.
‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ followed next, with Jerome taking charge of the vocals. Bold and empowering, this song was a little heavier than the previous two songs. By this time we’d understood that this band was going to surprise us with every new number.
Just when we thought the event was going to be a one-sided affair with the band doing all the hard work, Jerome asked the crowd if they were sober enough to follow their music. Dave Brubeck’s ‘Unsquare Dance’ followed, with the audience clapping in tandem with the beat. It proved to be quite a challenge keeping up with a tune on a 7/4 and quite a few members of the audience falling out of rhythm before long. But was great fun to be part of the magic of the band.
Bourbon Street’s version of Herbie Hancock’s ‘Chameleon’ followed next, as the crowd grooved to the snappy funky solos that each member of the band churned out with an ease that made it seem like they were in their element.
After playing a flurry of covers during the first set, the second set opened with an original composition ‘Opulence’. Opulence is a progressive instrumental track written by Chester, making use of an odd meter sequence from 7/8 , 6/8 to 5/8 + 4/8. This number was also shortlisted at the Yamaha Asian Beats 2011 contest. This number took a myriad of turns, one blending seamlessly into another, taking me through a mesmerizing trip. ‘Opulence‘ certainly brought out the best in each of the band members.
The song that followed took us all by surprise. What started off with funky guitar and harmonica riffs ended up being Dr. Rajkumar’s ‘If you come today (tick tick tick)’. Now it takes courage to belt out a Kannada film number at a bar called Legends of Rock, but Bourbon Street pulled it off and got the crowd shouting out for more. An excited Ashish, (of LOR) took stage and commended the band for flawlessly syncing their genre with a Kannada number. My verdict- Incredibly ingenious!
‘Got my Mojo Working’ was the next track, and boy did they get the crowd’s mojo working! Much heavier than the numbers played before, the rhythm and drums in perfect sync, this Muddy Waters cover got the audience singing/screaming/shouting out what they could of the chorus with Jerome. They also moved on to cover Doobie Brothers’ ‘Long train runnin’ which kept up the crescendo that was built up through the show.
Bourbon Street wrapped the evening with Santana’s ‘Black Magic Woman’. A familiar number to most on the floor, it was the perfect way to end a show that was sure to leave a lasting impression on everyone who was there that night.
I was lucky enough to get some time with the band once their gig ended, thanks to Jerome’s invitation to have a chat with the band. The first question I had was whether they were comfortable playing at a small venue like LOR, with the band members seemingly jostling for space on the tiny stage. “We performed here the first time LOR reopened for live music after the whole ban thing.” said drummer Sudhakar, who’d been obscured from view for the most part of the evening. “We like the place and are comfortable with playing here since the crowd is very responsive as they’re seated quite close to the stage.”
On asking Jerome, where Bourbon Street stood among blues bands in Bangalore, he replied with a smile, “In this city, there are bands that play the blues, there are bands that play jazz, bands that play fusion and then there’s Bourbon Street which plays a bit of jazz, a bit of blues, Carnatic fusion and a lot more. It’s a mix of genres packed into one show.”
On being asked as to why they chose to play cover versions for most of the evening, Sudhakar said, “None of the covers sound like the original. In fact we lend in our own touch to every cover that we perform, so you’d never find two shows sounding the same”. A soft spoken Chester added that they’d like to expose the public to a broader spectrum of music primarily from the older days. The artistes of that period, he said, performed with such passion that it puts many of the contemporary artistes to shame.
The gig went well apart from uncomfortable seating and an annoying light that kept shining into the audience’s eyes. I wrapped up my conversation with the band thanking them for the chat, making a mental note to catch them live again next time.