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Santana IV, ‘Live at the House of Blues Las Vegas': Album / Video Review

Eagle Rock
Eagle Rock

When most of the original Santana band reunited earlier this year, expectations were high, hoping they could recapture some of that magic that made the original lineup so incredible. The release of Santana IV, an album of new material, showed the band in fine form – but the concert stage was always where they shone brightest.

Live at the House of Blues Las Vegas allows us to witness the magic of their reunion for the first time since 1973.

Recorded on March 21, 2016, the concert preceded the arrival of their reunion LP. Still, as soon as Santana kick into the classic “Soul Sacrifice,” it’s obvious they are more than able to deliver the goods. Original members Carlos Santana, guitarist Neal Schon, keyboardist/vocalist Gregg Rolie, drummer Michael Shrieve and percussionist Michael Carabello are augmented by a handful of other players: Lending a hand in the live setting are Karl Perazzo (percussion, vocals), Benny Rietveld (bass) and David K. Mathews (keyboards). Special guest Ronald Isley of the Isley Brothers also provides vocals on a couple songs.

The focus for Live at the House of Blues Las Vegas, however, is on the interplay of the core band that created Santana’s early classic sound. “It feels really wonderful because this time we brought each other a gift,” Santana says during the interview segment. “We gave each other the gift of deep appreciation and validation. Before, we were too young to know what that was. This time around, we have the maturity of spirit to give one another gentle wisdom and appreciation.”

All the hits are here, such as “Evil Ways, “Oye Como Va,” “No One to Depend On” and “Black Magic Woman,” as well as fiery cuts from the reunion album. The performance is genuinely full of life, as they all seem to having a good time getting back to business. Live at the House of Blues Las Vegas features 23 songs spread over two CDs. The DVD offers both the entire concert as well as some nice bonus material, including a series of interviews with all the original members talking about their history – which is very interesting and entertaining.

Throughout, Santana’s signature style – that blurring of lines between rock, Latin, blues, jazz and African rhythms – still sounds fresh. But, clearly, something else clicked, too. “Now, I feel like we’re even tighter than ever, more connected, more grown up,” Schon says at one point. “It’s all around a better experience.”

Though Carlos has had numerous hits and triumphs over the past four-plus decades since the original Santana band called it a day, it’s obvious that this reunion has energized him. Displaying flash and soul, he seems back at home.

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