Live Review: Santana, Hammersmith Odeon, 1st June, 1990

Kind of Magic

This is the last night of three at the 'Hammy' and the second to be sold out. You can sense the fervour in the audience that is helping the musicians. Santana is happy. There's a smile on his face that starts from his eyes, as he effortlessly caresses his 'magic stick.' Magic is the key word tonight, as 'loose cyphers' emanate from his custom-made guitar (having foregone his trusty strat'), executed with surgical precision by the 'master magician' of the six string.

As the first strains of Black Magic Woman waft over the crowd, they go wild! Everyone's on their feet, chanting and stomping to the words and the rhythm. This is what they've come for!

"You're the healer!" shouts one disciple. Santana shares this revelation with Alex Liggertwood, the deceptively laid-back-looking vocalist-cum-rhythm-guitarist. Moving neatly into Oye Coma Va to another standing ovation, the aisles are swaying with the beat. Then Santana dedicates a skillful adaptation of Hendrix's Earth Mother to Nelson Mandela, with a speech about how it's as relevant today as in the 60s. "You're either part of the problem or of the solution..."

What's this song?...Who's that lady?...I don't know, but stop murdering what was previously a reasonable song by the Isley Brothers. I mean it's not as though he doesn't have the repertoire. As if in response, they play Heads, Hands, and Feet, which allows Walfredo Reyes, a veritable octopus having an epileptic fit, to show his expertise on the drums, while the band take five.

Returning to Savor, at the end of which 'Devadip' informs us that Armando Peraza on bongos was 78 on Wednesday (!), for which they play Anniversary, swiftly followed by Choose - a bit too funky for this rock fan. However, all is redeemed with She's Not There to which the audience go frenzied. Even Santana starts bopping! This segues into Se A Cabo (Damn! I can't keep my body still! The crowd wants more. I want more!

Santana returns on bongos! The beat of Jugando is caught up by the crowd and sustained throughout the number as the band resume their natural instruments.

After a monotonous, long-winded recital of A Love Supreme, Santana informs us that they play entirely live. "No pre-recorded shit!" as is the norm. "So next time bring your friends!" if any more could fit inside! Backing this statement up, he glides reflectively into a heart-rendering version of Europa. Giving full credits to his band over the intro' of the grand finale they launch into Jingo, running a wide margin over schedule! ...As everyone departs, still in the euphoria of the music, we all agree it was a truly religious experience... Magic!

Blasting Vickers
Riff Raff
July 1990

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