When I first saw that Santana and The Doobie Brothers were going to be at FivePoint Amphitheatre in Irvine, which is quickly becoming a favorite venue of mine, I knew I had to try and photograph the show. I had never seen either of these great bands before, and they lived up to every memory of listening to their music I have. The term legend can sometimes seem like it’s tossed around too easily, but when you are talking about artists like these… it fits perfectly. Heck, arguably the term was invented for artists just like these.
Let’s start with Santana’s headline set… I love the way he took the stage, with the large screens playing footage from the original Woodstock. So many artists try to distance themselves from their past, but here he embraced it, and rightfully so. On that day the world of music changed forever, and that is in large part due to Santana. Fifty years later, Carlos Santana plays with an energy that seems to take you right back to 1969, minus the mud. As I was thinking about this show, both before and after seeing it, I couldn’t help but think about his amazing career, and all of the greats he has played with. Looking at the “Past Members” list on Wikipedia is somewhat shocking. Greg Rolie & Neal Schon, of Journey fame, are the two most well know examples, but the list is filled with some of the best musicians – ever.
That brings us to the current lineup. Wow. This band is seriously one of the best group of players you will ever see live, and I am talking about insanely good. On drums (pictured above) is Carlos’ wife Cindy Blackman Santana. Her credits include Lenny Kravitz, Joss Stone, and many more. Watching her play was fantastic, and when the overhead camera put her on the big screen I almost forgot to keep taking photos.
The rest of the band is made up of Paoli Mejias on percussion, Andy Vargas and Ray Green on vocals, Benny Rietveld on bass, David Mathews on keys, Karl Perazzo on percussion, and Tom Anthony on Guitar & vocals. This band is beyond good, with credits ranging from Shakira to Mandy Moore, Julio Iglesias, Ricky Martin, Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Rick James, Chick Corea, Mariah Carey, John Lee Hooker, Tower of Power, Etta James, Robert Cray, George Benson, and that’s only a small part of the extensive recording and performing resume. Yeah, this may be the tightest band you will ever see live.
Now, I want you to picture that kind of talent, led by the legendary Santana, going through hits like “Soul Sacrifice”, “Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen”, “Oye como va”, “Evil Ways”, “Smooth” and more. He even does some amazing covers. The bottom line is that this is not a show to be missed. Go, just go. The tour hits The Hollywood Bowl on June 24th – the day I am posting this review. Here’s the info.
Opening the night was The Doobie Brothers, and I admit I was really excited for these guys. This is one of those rare bands where you know every word to every song. Let me try and make that point stronger….. as you read these titles I want you to try, just try, to not sing the song… “Rockin’ Down the Highway”, “Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While)”, “Takin’ It to the Streets”, “Jesus Is Just Alright”, China Grove”, Long Train Runnin”, “Black Water”, and “Listen to the Music”. It’s hit after hit after hit.
I admit I was curious how The Doobies would sound after all these years, and I was blown away. They sounded amazing, in fact as good as the damn record. And here’s the other thing…. the smiles. These guys have been touring so long and it is clear they still absolutely love what they do. Hard not to smile with them.
So the bottom line is simple…. I really hope that you see this post in time to get tickets and head to the Hollywood Bowl show. You will not be disappointed.
As always, there is a gallery of more photos below, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the show. Follow me online at:
All Images Copyright 2019 Steve Brazill, All Rights Reserved. Do not use without permission.