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Live Review: Santana & Steve Miller Band

26 March 2013 | 11:06 am | Belinda Healy

As Carlos had so passionately told the crowd earlier, “We’d play all night if we could”. And after such a performance, everyone wishes they would.

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The sun sets over the city in the hazy clouds, and people rush to enter the Rod Laver Arena as the show has an early start time of 7pm. The huge curtain reading 'Space Cowboy' falls to the ground and Steve Miller Band break into Take The Money And Run. Eyes are drawn to a man with the most exceptional dance moves, his black and white Michael Jackson-esque shoes gliding and moving around the stage. He is introduced later by Miller as Sonny Charles, the former singer of The Checkmates.

Miller's familiar, pitch-perfect voice with its Californian drawl is pleasing to the ears. When he announces that a song is from album The Joker, the crowd cheers, and people begin dancing and head nodding to Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma Ma. Miller talks to the crowd about putting out five albums in 18 months between 1968 and 1969, being a hippy and the background to Kow Kow Calculator. They play a beautifully dreamy extended version of Fly Like An Eagle, and while playing Don't Carry Me Too Far Away, a long haired man in the crowd is grabbed by security guards for dancing too far away from his seat. It feels like a far cry from the freedom of California in the '60s, but the music evokes memories and feelings from those times.

Steve Miller Band are breathtaking, but the show is only half done. “We are here to rearrange your molecular structure,” Carlos Santana tells the crowd, dressed from head to toe in white. From the beginning to the end of Santana's show, the audience is completely engaged, entertained, and impressed by the skill, diversity and sheer talent of all 11 people on stage. These are true performers, switching from high-energy Latino songs driven by the hip-shaking sounds of the maracas, to long, jammy tracks, and of course the hits from Black Magic Woman to Maria Maria. Each musician is given their time to shine, with jaw-dropping solos by many of them. The crowd favourite is by the drummer, who casually chews gum and looks relaxed as his hands move much faster than the human eye can see.

Throughout the performance, Santana's hypnotic voice guides the audience with advice and thoughts about spirituality and life. When he invites Steve Miller back onto the stage, he lets him take the spotlight with Otis Rush's All Your Love (I Miss Loving). Santana launches into another awe-inspiring guitar solo followed by Steve Miller, and as they jam away together, the audience take in a moment to go down in Melbourne musical history.

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They finish with Smooth, and are just as energetic and captivating as they were in the beginning. As Carlos had so passionately told the crowd earlier, “We'd play all night if we could”. And after such a performance, everyone wishes they would.