Santana Celebrates 20 Years of Supernatural in the Queen City
The Legendary Guitarist Heats Things Up at PNC Music Pavilion
Santana first made their mark on the music world with their self-titled debut album in 1969 and subsequent performance at the historic Woodstock Music and Arts Festival. Led by guitarist Carlos Santana, the band featured a blend of Latin rock, blues, psychedelic, and even a little jazz fusion. The classic Santana lineup of Carlos Santana, Gregg Rolie, Mike Carabella, Michael Shrieve, David Brown and Jose Areos would go on to release two more critically acclaimed albums with the 1970 Abraxas album and 1971’s Santana III. The lineup would change over the years with Carlos being the only constant member. 1999 would mark the biggest commercial success for Santana with the release of Supernatural. The record spawned several hit singles including “Smooth” which featured Matchbox Twenty vocalist Rob Thomas and went to number one in eleven countries.
Over the years, Santana has gone on to sell over 100 million albums worldwide and in 2000 the classic lineup was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The band is currently in the middle of the Supernatural Now tour celebrating twenty years of the classic album as well as their latest release Africa Speaks. It has been a long time, well over a decade since Santana has played in Charlotte and the PNC Music Pavilion was packed with fans of all ages and backgrounds ready to see the legend in action.
First on the bill for the evening’s festivities were The Doobie Brothers. The band has been around in some format for nearly fifty years, rocking audiences around the world. The Doobies had their biggest success in the seventies and have gone through numerous personnel changes since then. The current lineup features guitarist and vocalist Tom Johnston, guitarist and vocalist Patrick Simmons, and guitarist, John McFee. It seems like The Doobies are always on tour and it just wouldn’t be summer without seeing them live. After a rain delay due to a heavy thunderstorm, the crowd was just starting to filter in when the Doobie Brothers hit the stage. The band ran through a set full of their hits and sounded better than ever as they took us “Rockin’ Down the Highway” and had us “Takin’ it to the Streets.” It was a fun-filled set and by the time they got to the end the entire venue took over the vocals for “Listen to the Music.” I was sitting over in the VIP area and you could hear them loud and clear as day. It was a great start to the night and a perfect way for the Doobies to end their set.
Now it was time for the moment that everyone had been waiting for, some for many, many years, Santana!
As the lights dimmed, the stage lit up with fluorescent colors and giant peace signs which adorned the rear of the stage. A movie began to play on the screen at the rear of the stage showing various clips from the historic Woodstock Festival. A few nights after his Charlotte performance, Santana would return to Bethel Woods to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the extraordinary event. It was then that I realized Carlos Santana was 72 years old!
The band hit the stage, it was hard to believe that this guitar legend was standing right in front of me and playing with all the vim and vigor of his youth. Donning his signature fedora and a Supernatural Now Tour tee-shirt, Santana lit up the stage with power and grace. His style and skills are truly unique as he performed a master class on the guitar kicking off the evening with “Soul Sacrifice” from his debut album. Joining him on stage were a bevy of talented musicians that make up his band including three percussionists, one of which happens to be his wife, drummer Cindy Blackman Santana.
The night air was hot and thick but the venue was filled with the “Smooth” vibes of Santana as people danced, sang, and swayed to the beats. The setlist was full of songs from the entire Santana catalog, from the 1969 debut to their latest 2019 release as well as some very cool covers. It was interesting to see such a wide variety of percussion instruments from timbales to maracas and everything in between.
The night was capped off with a four-song encore that had the crowd on their feet wishing it would never end. For Santana fans, this was a long time coming and they weren’t going to miss one precious second of it. The legend was in the house proving he is as Supernatural now as he was fifty years ago. Don’t miss your chance to see Santana when the Supernatural Now Tour hit a city near you.