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Concert Reviews:
Santana Brings Peace, Harmony, Unity To Palace

Of the Oakland Press

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AUBURN HILLS -- In videotaped preamble to Friday night's (April 18) concert at the Palace, Carlos Santana told the crowd that "unity and harmony and peace is possible in our lifetime."

You can argue about the likelihood of all that happening on a global scale. But at a Santana show it's unavoidable.

Good vibes, of the old-fashioned hippie variety, reigned during the group's two-hour and 40-minutes on stage, as Santana and his 10-piece band put on a fierce display of virtuostic ensemble playing and genre-hopping fusion. Working from a polyrhythmic Latin-rock base, Santana mixed in elements of jazz, soul and reggae, but for all the professed high consciousness the group never lost sight of the fact it was there to inspire some serious booty shaking -- which was indeed the case at the Palace.

Santana had his priorities, too. "Now we turn our attention to the women," the guitar hero, who's in the midst of a divorce declared before the pairing of "Capri" and "Maria Maria." " 'Cause as we all know, nothing happens unless the women are happy."

That said, all 7,100 at Friday's show seemed satisfied, and then some, regardless of gender. Since the most recent album, "Ultimate Santana," is a hits collection, the concert was filled with well-known material, starting with the propulsive "Jingo" and focusing on the group's late '60s/early '70s heyday ("Everybody's Everything," "Black Magic Woman"/"Gypsy Queen," "Oye Como Va," "No One to Depend On" and a jaw-dropping encore of "Soul Sacrifice") and the commercial renaissance Santana began with 1999's "Supernatural" and hits like "Smooth" and the recent single "Into the Night."

But Santana took plenty of trips off the beaten hit path, pleasing real devotees with "deep cuts" like "Corazon Espinado," "Incident at Neshabur" and "Batuka" -- his every solo creating a new highlight for the evening. The night also hit a high point when opening act Derek Trucks and members of his band joined the proceedings for exuberant workouts on Bob Marley's "Exodus" -- proceeded by a lengthy, free-form jam -- and Marvin Gaye's "Right On," an explicit nod to the show's locale. "We know where we are," Santana said before the later.

The fans knew, too. And with unity and harmony reigning -- loudly -- around them, it's likely they never wanted to leave.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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