"Our highest goal tonight is to rearrange your molecular structure," said guitarist Carlos Santana at the beginning of Santana's set Friday night at The Canyons. "In other words, we want to touch your hearts."
And after a 10 minute guitar solo backed by intoxicating rhythms from his three percussionists, that remark somehow made sense.To get the full effect of Santana requires a live viewing. Their mesmerizing music is part of an intimate exchange with the audience. They really do reach an altered state of consciousness.
A third of the way through the set, they unveiled a mystical psychedelic mural featuring "St. Carlos Santana." After awhile, that changed to a mural of Jesus descending on a Mayan temple with hundreds of American Indians and angels looking up at him. Behind Jesus was an embryo within the Earth.
Heavy stuff. And it matched the music. It switched from salsa tinged with funk to funk tinged with salsa and included moments of hip-hop and reggae.
Whoever Santana's new vocalist is, he can really wail. And their keyboardist adds the perfect amount of rhythm and chords. The flutist/saxophonist/keyboardist, who played for both opening act Los Lobos and Santana, filled out the many layered voicings nicely.
For the last third of the set, Carlos Santana called opening act Los Lobos back to the stage. Together, they played a Bob Marley medley. The feeling on stage, and in the audience, was incredible as the 12 musicians played together without stepping on each other's toes.
The Los Lobos set included music from their eclectic repertoire, including salsa, meringue, and a gaucho polka, which got the audience hopping. They ended with some straight-up, Chuck Berry-esque rock 'n' roll tunes that showed that Los Lobos is indeed beyond category. They played with an honesty and tightness that overshadowed their tour weariness.
Not even the inept security could ruin the show, although they seemed to try their best. They were tough enough to clear the front of the well-behaved salsa dancers during Los Lobos but too afraid to clear the bleachers of unruly, drunk patrons that were squeezing people out of their rightful seats.