Geezer Rock at Its Best: Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana was at Outlaw Field in Boise, Idaho Tuesday night. It was hot, somewhere in the high 80s, or maybe “seven inches from the midday sun,”1 as Mrs. WC noted. WC was there, too. The show was terrific, even if it was another in a long series of geezer rock concerts WC has attended. John Mellencamp, Brian Wilson, Paul Simon, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson; at indoor venues, Gordon Lightfoot, Jackson Browne, Albert Lee and James Taylor. Not one of them on the south side of 65.

But if Carlos Santana is geezer rock, he is terrific geezer rock.

Carlos Santana, holding those long sustains in "Black Magic Woman"

Carlos Santana, holding those long sustains in “Black Magic Woman”

Backed by a road band of two drummers, a conga player, a bass player, a keyboardist and two vocalists (one of whom gave us an occasional trombone bit), Carlos rocked the house down. As anyone who has seen the movie Woodstock knows, Santana is a wonderful live act and, 48 years (!) down the road it’s still true. As good as all those studio albums are, it’s even better live.

Santana, Front, Carlos Santana and Tommy Anthony; Back Cindy Blackman Santana and Paoli Mejias

Santana, Front, Carlos Santana and Tommy Anthony; Back Cindy Blackman Santana and Paoli Mejias

While Carlos and his guitar were the center of the show, there were lots of opportunity for the other band members to show their stuff. The drum solos were especially impressive. Cindy Blackman (Mrs. Carlos Santana) was especially impressive in an extended solo in “Oye Como Va.”

Cindy Blackman working the skins

Cindy Blackman working the skins

Some of his newer tunes were in the set, but we were mostly there for those 50 years of hits, and we got to hear most of them. “Maria Maria” and “Jingo (Rock)” were especially wonderful.

Yes, Carlos Santana tends to natter. He always have. He did in the old Macarthur Court” in Eugene in 1971; he did at the old Chicago Stadium on the West Side of Chicago. He did again at the show Tuesday night. It’s a feature, not a bug. And his jab at Donald Trump scored a lot of points with WC.

As the evening finally started to cool off, the band started to really heat up, and their penultimate song, “Smooth,” an absolute knock-out version. But Outlaw Field is in a residential neighborhood, and shows can’t run past 10:00 PM. Which is a shame, You have to wonder what would have happened next.

A great show. Thanks to Carlos Santana and the Idaho Botanical Garden, which hosts these outdoor shows. Hey! Santana!


  1. “Smooth,” on the multi-Grammy award-winning album Supernatural, by Carlos Santana.