Written by Dave Clements
A typical hot steamy summer night in The Woodlands. TX is what the 10k plus crowd was required to endure on the last day of this long 4th of July weekend. Everyone in attendance had to be either diehard Doobie fans or significant Santana followers to still be revved up and ready to party.
When I signed up for this gig it seemed like a great idea. However, earlier in the day I was standing out in the hot sun with perspiration dripping off my forehead. While trying to make a four foot putt I began wondering why I would put myself in a car, drive 30 minutes down the road, and spend even more hours outdoors in the hottest and most humid part of the day. Gosh, I love Texas! Bring on the warmth. It will always be better than cold, rainy, wet, snowy weather.
And I also have to admit that when I learned that the Doobies were opening for Santana on this stop of their Supernatural Now tour, I really didn’t get that combination on the same bill. It seemed like an ‘odd couple’, if you will. But as we were driving home I concluded that it worked great…especially when both bands came together during Santana’s set and rocked the place out.
As usual, the Doobie Brothers came out and rocked the house. Although it did seem like this crowd was a little slow responding to the tunes. Overheated? It wasn’t until they started into the first few guitar strums of Long Train Runnin’ that the audience woke up full force…more like exploded to their feet! And there are always exceptions. One guy in front of us was getting his groove on early, dancing like nobody was watching when the Doobies played China Grove. (Also one of my favorites!)
Some other highlights: Billy Payne (of Little Feat fame) did a terrific keyboard solo. Then, not to be outplayed Marc Russo (formerly of Tower Of Power and many more bands) was outstanding on the sax. This guy with his flowing long white hair has one special set of lungs and musical skills to match. All I can say is World Class.
Black Water & Listen To The Music ended the DB set and the band of eight, even though only three are ‘official’ Doobies, did their job well. Then we were off and running to enjoy the ‘main course’: the legendary Carlos Santana.
As truly good as the opener was, there was no doubt whatsoever as to why Carlos Santana and friends were headlining this show. Santana is simply otherworldly. The guy can only be described as amazing, untouchable by any other. What he does with his Paul Reed Smith strapped over his shoulder is something to behold. The DB have Long Train Runnin’…Santana is a Fast Train Runnin’ in Overdrive , song after song. And yet he makes it look effortless, just floating through the music. It is a little overwhelming after a while…the brain can only take so much greatness in one night.
Of course he doesn’t do it alone. On stage, he has some of the finest musicians that can be assembled at one time in one place. I wish I had the time to go in depth on each one of the eight. It would be a study in musical genius. One I will give honorable mention to is one of the most energetic and creative drummers I’ve ever witnessed giving her all, over and over again. Thank you Cindy Blackman, aka Mrs. Carlos Santana!
Some highlights for me included She’s Not There when the DBs were invited out to join Carlos. What caused me to enjoy it was the DB guitarists stepped up their game to not look too overshadowed. They looked inspired and awed and aware that it was really no contest. Still can’t believe how easy, how detailed, how magically he can make his guitar sing. Hell, it’s no wonder his doesn’t talk much on stage. His guitar does all the talking for him!
Song wise (Da Le) Yaleo, Black Magic Woman, Oye Como Va, and of course Put Your Lights On (with everybody in this huge crowd holding up their lit phones!) were my favorites for the evening.
Sure glad we signed up for this awesomely cool show. What heat and humidity?
Until next time I sure hope you will do all you can do to support live music so we can continue to have it available for generations to come.