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Live Review: Santana, The Doobie Brothers

12 April 2017 | 11:36 am | Tobias Handke

"Santana's 1999 smash hit 'Smooth' leaves nobody in doubt that they're witnessing one of the greatest guitarists ever to shred the stage."

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Opening with their cover of Arthur Reid Reynolds' gospel favourite, Jesus Is Just Alright (reinvigorated by DC Talk in the '90s), American rock veterans The Doobie Brothers put on the kind of electric performance that's expected from a band with five decades of touring experience.

Looking spritely for their age, The Doobies offer a nostalgic trip through their extensive catalogue, with Takin' It To The Streets, Long Train Runnin', What A Fool Believes, China Grove and the band's number one smash Black Water demonstrating their rock pedigree. Dual vocalists Tom Johnston and Patrick Simmons have lost none of their spark, with the group's harmonies as delightful as ever. Listen To The Music brings their set to a close with a mass singalong as a bunch of oldies dance in the aisle, much to the annoyance of arena staff.

Identifiable by his signature fedora and thick black moustache, the great man Carlos Santana nonchalantly slinks on stage as the crowd goes wild. A rock'n'roll legend and guitar virtuoso, Santana spins a two-hour spell of positivity and good vibes through song, with Jingo, Let It Shine, Foo Foo and the sensual Maria Maria all received well by the appreciative crowd. Known as much for his original material as his interpretations of famous tracks, Santana doesn't disappoint with an extended jam of John Coltrane's A Love Supreme, an African-influenced take on Deon Jackson's Love Makes The World Go Round and the salsa groove of Tito Puente's Oye Como Va.

Spending most of his time positioned in front of two elaborate drum kits stationed in the middle of the stage, Santana is all business, occasionally taking time to preach a message of peace and love and urging fans not "to go along with the shit" the media and government are trying to sell. When he's playing, Santana is in a trance, eyes closed, fingers moving in a blur as he commands his custom PRS guitar like a man possessed by a higher power. It's quite the sight, as is the dynamic and extremely talented band that backs him. This eight-piece ensemble is the lifeblood of Santana's sound, infusing his arrangements with emotion and flair. Two drum kits, multiple keyboards, a set of bongos and a trumpet are all part of the set-up, along with the standard rhythm guitar and bass accompaniments. Santana's wife Cindy Blackman is incredible during her ten-minute drum solo, leaving the crowd in awe, while singers Andy Vargas and Ray Greene possess fantastic, soulful vocals that draw the audience in.

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Soul Sacrifice takes things up a notch as the opening strains of Fleetwood Mac's Black Magic Woman get everyone up on their feet. Enya's Orinoco Flow (Sail Away) is transformed into an up-tempo rocker before Santana presents a cake and flowers to one of his road crew as the crowd joins in on a rendition of Happy Birthday. The best is saved for last, though, as Santana's 1999 smash hit Smooth leaves nobody in doubt that they're witnessing one of the greatest guitarists ever to shred the stage.