Santana at Wembley Arena
There are few bands whose frontman is not a lead singer, but legendary guitarist Carlos Santana broke the mould some forty years ago with his Latino band Santana and the act has been flourishing ever since. Santana drew hordes of fans to a packed Wembley Arena for their performance on Friday evening.
The atmosphere grows ever more excited as the audience rush for their seats, and finally reaches a crescendo when the band bursts onto the stage in a flurry of coloured lights and overlapping percussion. The band is immediately vivacious, but it is Carlos Santana who pulls the high energy set together.
Carlos is every inch the leading man; he is planted firmly at centre stage to deliver the thrilling rifts and solos that he is known for. He is, by now, entirely used to the plain adoration offered by his audience, but is still humble and engaging. There is something very open about Carlos’ performance, and though they are in the massive Wembley Arena, there is an almost intimate atmosphere, as though he were entertaining friends in his own home. This is particularly true of his slower, acoustic numbers, which lull the audience into awed silences. At one point, the tables are turned when, prompted by the band, the audience sings Happy Birthday to the guitarist while his wife takes to the stage to embrace him. He is dumbstruck and touched, but almost immediately resumes his outstanding performance. His guitar solos simply soar, and established hits like Maria Maria and Smooth see the crowd dancing, screaming and singing.
Though Carlos is inarguably the star of the stage, Santana remains a group effort, and the guitarist finds strong, capable support in his band members. The percussionists in particular play with such exuberance and stamina that one might worry that their instruments will combust – in fact, drummer Karl Perazzo plays so enthusiastically that he breaks a drumstick mid-song. Tony Lindsay and Andy Vargas take lead vocals with similar yet strong voices that complement each other beautifully.
This award-winning group are undoubtedly the face of Latino rock. With music in a variety of styles and lyrics sung in both Spanish and English, Santana is understandably a reputable crowd pleaser. This band more than lives up to the hype; Santana are not to be missed.
Photos: Sara Michele
For further information and future events visit Santana’s website here.
Watch the video for Maria Maria here: