Ongoing Review of Santana & Derek Trucks

2 May

Here’s Carlos sitting in with the Derek Trucks Band doing Greensleeves: April 10, 2008.

Santana rocks the Hard Rock

BY MICHAEL HAMERSLY, May 1, 2008 Miami Herald

Carlos Santana proved once again that he’s one of the world’s all-time great guitarists Wednesday night at a sold-out Hard Rock Live Arena at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood. The 60-year-old rocker visited every phase of his storied career, pleasing purists at the start with lengthy instrumental jams that ventured into blues and jazz excursions, his whirlwind solos soaring with pristine clarity.

After his ’60s hit No One To Depend On, during which Santana played so fluidly it was like he was singing through his fingers, he showed his notorious spiritual side, addressing the crowd: “It is a naked joy to be in your presence. It means a lot for us to present ourselves to an ocean of people who are hungry for the truth. . . . There are only two things on this planet — love and fear. So choose love.”

After that well-received suggestion, Santana tore into Maria Maria, a rock-‘n’-roll take on West Side Story, and impressed by switching from playing classical guitar on an acoustic propped on a stand to electric lead guitar strapped around his neck. Latin music fans were then thrilled with a cool salsa jam followed by Corazon espinado, Santana’s collaboration with Grammy-winning Mexican rock band Maná.

One of the evening’s highlights was predictably the duet of Black Magic Woman and Oye como va, during which the video screen flashed between album covers and classic footage of Santana from the ’60s and ’70s. Opening act Derek Trucks joined Santana onstage at this point, and he showed his virtuosity on slide guitar by dueling with Santana for several songs, including the new Shape Shifter, dedicated to Native Americans, “the first people of the land.”

Santana didn’t forget his modern fans, throwing them Smooth, the Grammy-winning tune featuring singer Rob Thomas from matchbox twenty, and Into the Night, featuring Nickelback singer Chad Kroeger. Neither singer was on hand, and no one missed them.

Soul Sacrifice, the 11-minute instrumental song that gained Santana fame from the original Woodstock festival, featured extended double bongo solos, a funky upright bass, video grabs from the ’60s and improvised nods to The Doors’ classic hit Light My Fire.

And it sent the happy crowd home on fire.

Santana plays what’s on his mind at UCF Arena

by JimAbbott on Apr 30, 2008

Carlos Santana likes to tell wanna-be guitar heroes to find out what’s inside his head if they want to imitate his sound.

On Tuesday at the UCF Arena, Santana opened his mind, as well as his musical soul, in a show that was both skillful and generous.

“We believe in the concept of live your light,” he told a multi-generational audience that almost filled the hall.

He talked about “pollinating” the world with positive energy and about the notion that everyone is part of a “beam of light that comes from the mind of God.”

He urged his fans to “create a masterpiece of joy out of your life.”

On stage, he and his 10-piece band painted a masterpiece of extended improvisation, although a few more hits in the early going would have been nice, too.

Instead, the first 45 minutes of a marathon 2-1/2 hours was dominated by intense instrumentals that cast an oddly mellow mood for an arena show.

Santana still slings a guitar with virtuosity, shifting from searing high tones into subdued interludes that were more tender than anything one might reasonably expect at a rock show.

The Spanish guitar on “Maria Maria” was a good opportunity for Santana to demonstrate that can weave captivating melodies that needn’t scream to be effective.

Still, it was a long time, more than 90 minutes, until he broke out a legitimate show-stopper: a faithful romp through “Black Magic Woman.”

At one point, Santana welcomed opening act Derek Trucks on stage for a lengthy jam, telling the crowd that Trucks has been “anointed” with talent. Trucks and his tightly constructed ensemble demonstrated that with a fiery 50-minute opening set that careened joyously from old-school R&B to gospel, jazz and the gut-bucket blues of “Key to the Highway.”

By the time that Trucks and Santana started trading licks, there had been so much jamming that it seemed as if the musicians were having more fun than the audience. I mean, does John Coltrane fire up an arena?

In the end, however, Santana devoted about 30 minutes to incendiary runs through the classic “Oye Como Va” and the less-classic but still popular “Smooth.”

Then, he revisited the spiritual mood with “Into the Night,” a closer that gave a bona fide guitar hero one more chance to play what was on his mind.


By Daniel Durchholz



Carlos Santana may be in TV commercials these days, shilling for Macy’s, but the message he offered at Scottrade Center on Wednesday night had a more egalitarian purpose.

“Brotherhood … sisterhood. No more us and them. Oneness,” he intoned over his 10-piece band’s simmering Latin beat.

Santana is an icon of Woodstock Nation, a point the occasional clips that played on a video board made clear. And his late-’90s resurgence made him a star all over again. But while his 2½-hour show was filled with ecstasy-inducing jams and crowd-pleasing radio hits, Santana deflected much of the attention to his own heroes.

“We are the echo of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, John Lennon,” he said, reeling off a list of others. He also acknowledged playing in St. Louis, which he called “Miles Davis’ place,
Chuck Berry’s place.”

The music drew on some of those sources of inspiration. A gorgeous, meditative take of John Coltrane’s “Naima” spotlighted trumpeter Bill Ortiz. Santana led his band, fronted by vocalists Tony Lindsey and Andy Vargas, through Bob Marley’s “Exodus” and matched Marvin Gaye’s “Right On” with Mos Def’s “Umi Says.” The latter tunes are about struggle and strife but ultimately perseverance and uplift, and they couldn’t have sounded more timely.

Long instrumental jams, such as “Incident at Neshabur” and “Soul Sacrifice,” gave keyboardist Chester Thompson, drummer Dennis Chambers, and congueros Karl Perazzo and Raul Rekow room to stretch out. Santana, meanwhile, made the most of his rich, liquid guitar tone and impassioned — yet always melodic — playing style.

But it was the hits — old and new, ranging from the classics “Black Magic Woman” and “Oye Como Va” to the more recent “Maria Maria” and “Smooth” — that got the crowd to its feet.

True, there was plenty of room to dance: Scottrade’s lower bowl wasn’t even full. But if you closed your eyes, it seemed that Woodstock Nation had reconvened once again — if you forgot that you were dry, not stoned and had less hair.

Slide guitarist Derek Trucks, who sat in with Santana for a couple of numbers, opened the show with his own band. His set didn’t offer much in the way of showmanship, but Trucks’ command of Southern blues and boogie guitar styles is obvious.

Chicago Sun Times

April 21, 2008

By Bobby Reed

Hippie. Entertainer. Spiritual dude. Guitarist Carlos Santana displayed multiple aspects of his personality over the course of a sprawling, two-and-a-half-hour concert Saturday night at the Allstate Arena.

The energetic bandleader, who was born in Mexico during the summer of 1947, embodied the saying “60 is the new 40.” Whether he was playing an epic guitar solo, shaking maracas with both hands, or doing some goofy, jam-band dancing with his elastic arms, the trim showman certainly didn’t resemble most folks whose age is budging them toward that once-feared label “senior citizen.”

The guitarist’s namesake band, founded in San Francisco in 1966, occupies a unique place in rock history. Santana performed at Woodstock in 1969, participated in Live Aid in 1985, won a gaggle of Grammy awards for the 1999 album “Supernatural” and continues to pack arenas and generate airplay for new material in the current millennium.

During Saturday’s concert, the band’s long history was surveyed in a brilliant video montage that accompanied a rousing, seven-minute rendition of “Oye Como Va,” a 1971 hit that has become an enduring staple of classic rock radio. The band has undergone numerous personnel changes over the decades, but the key ingredient that made it a pioneering act 40 years ago remains intact today — the hypnotic combination of Latin percussive rhythms spiced by Santana’s trademark guitar solos.

The current Santana lineup includes 11 members, each of whom got a turn in the spotlight during this marathon concert. The band’s two vocalists, Tony Lindsay and Andy Vargas, traded verses to great effect on vintage material like “Black Magic Woman” and the “Supernatural” smash hits “Smooth” and “Maria Maria.”

Keyboardist Chester Thompson played crisp organ riffs on a rousing version of “Everybody’s Everything.” Even trombonist Jeff Cressman had a solo slot during a sparkling cover of rapper Mos Def’s “Umi Says.”

The bandleader addressed the crowd only a couple of times between songs, and each was an occasion to share a message of peace and unity. He also injected political commentary during “Brotherhood,” a song from the relatively obscure 1985 album “Beyond Appearances.” Adding some new lyrics, Santana sang, “Bush, Condoleezza, Cheney, are you listening? / No more war, violence or pain.”

Santana invited opening act Derek Trucks back onstage for a muscular cover of the Bob Marley classic “Exodus.” During the song’s introduction, Santana told the audience, “If you’ve got some, you know what to do with it.” (This may have been a reference to smoking cannabis, but many of the suburban baby boomers in the arena probably use Viagra or dietary fiber supplements as their drug of choice these days.)

Trucks stayed onstage for a few songs, and his slide guitar work added a compelling bite to the headlining act’s polyrhythmic vibe. Trucks, who fronts his own namesake sextet and is also a member of the Allman Brothers Band, offered an impressive opening set. Lead singer Mike Mattison unfurled his soulful rasp on a cover of “I Wish I Knew,” and Trucks showed his astounding guitar prowess on the instrumental “Greensleeves.”

Santana preachy but still timelessly cool PHOTO HERE


April 20, 2008

It was hard to tell if Carlos Santana got off more from his guitar playing or his shaman-like peace-and-love preaching Sunday night at St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center.

For the fans, of course, there was no contest.

Since his breakout appearance at Woodstock in 1969, the 60-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer has always instilled spiritual and utopian messages into his sets, but he really went off the hippie deep end Sunday.

The show was part of his “Live Your Light Tour” — and it sounded like ol’ Carlos has been lighting up aplenty, if you know what I mean.

“Unity and harmony and peace are possible in our lifetime,” Santana said in a New Age-y video montage that kicked off the concert and made it sound like “We Are the World” would be the opening tune (it was actually 1969’s “Jingo”).

A few songs later, after his 1999 radio hit “Put Your Lights On,” he made a lengthy spiel: “It’s important to remind and reestablish that we are all beams of light … Let us create a masterpiece of joy … Transcend your own consciousness so that we can heal this world … You and I are the change for the planet.”

The Mexican American music icon gave the Dalai Lama a run for his money with some of the song selections, too: from the dullard anthem “Life Is Worth Living” near the start of the set to the livelier “Brotherhood” toward the end.

Since he shelled out an impressively paced 2 1/2-hour set, though, Santana could be easily forgiven his mystical divergences.

Plus, he remains just so timelessly cool, although his local audience dwindled down to around 7,000 people Sunday from the 15,000 who saw him around the time of the 1999 mega-comeback album “Supernatural.”

He took the stage in a black fedora hat, stylish shades and a dapper sangria-colored suit, and he rarely lost that laid-back smile. He even slyly made fun of himself after his longest sermon, asking, “Did you get all that?”

Of course, he also made up for his passionate pleas by being equally passionate in his playing.

The show was light on the radio-oriented tracks that have peppered his albums since “Supernatural” (“Maria Maria” and “Smooth” were the only others offered).

Instead, he and his namesake 10-piece band stuck to their age-old acidic Latin jams and made a few interesting musical divergences.

Among the musical highlights was a fiery two-song duel with Santana’s fellow one-time guitar prodigy Derek Trucks, who opened the show with his band (he also plays in the Allman Brothers Band with his uncle, drummer Butch Trucks). Far mellower but equally thrilling, Santana and trumpeter Bill Ortiz traded licks in the elegant jazz tune “Capri.”

Surprisingly, the classic-rock radio staples “Black Magic Woman” and “Oye Como Va” were on the printed setlist handed out by the stage but they didn’t actually make it into the performance. At least “Soul Sacrifice,” best-known from “Woodstock,” appeased the old diehards in the encore.

Still, a few more familiar jams in the concert might have helped fans live their lights — or at least light up their Bics.

See the full setlist at Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658

© 2008 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.

Santana is king

On stage, he rules with his guitar, mixing mammoth jams with groovy vocals


The Gazette

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The hype may have once again subsided, but Carlos Santana has not. The legendary guitarist brought his 40-year career to the Bell Centre last night, where he performed for 11,000 enthusiastic fans, and let the music reign supreme.

While his first recordings, from the late ’60s and early ’70s, are now classics of fusion rock (incorporating Latin, jazz and then some), Santana had faded into relative obscurity when his 1999 album Supernatural put him back in the pop spotlight. Two more releases – 2002’s Shaman and 2005’s All That I Am – followed in Supernatural’s footsteps, adopting its star-studded guest list formula, with diminished results.

Santana struck a careful balance last night, paying tribute to both his artistically inspired beginnings and his recent chart-topping successes. Old gems such as Jingo, Everybody’s Everything and Incident at Neshabur were mixed in with Put Your Lights On (his 1999 collaboration with Everlast, off Supernatural), Maria Maria (also off Supernatural) and the festive Foo Foo (from 2002’s Shaman).

Each had its merits, Maria Maria eliciting a cheer and singalong to match the one that greeted his 1971 hit No One to Depend On. And mammoth jams – featuring inspired participation from his dozen-strong band – were the norm.

On record, especially on his last couple releases, Santana has been reduced to squeezing his out-of-place guitar noodling in between verses of songs written by other people, featuring odd pairings of singers with whom he has little in common. On stage, it’s a different story. On stage, Santana is king, he rules with his guitar, and his audience follows him blindly.

The jams led the way last night, putting Santana right in his element. Never mind bells and whistles – give this man a guitar, and an airtight ensemble (with distinct Latin leanings), and let him do his thing.

Sparks flew when opener Derek Trucks (introduced by Santana as embodying “the spirit of Stevie Ray Vaughan”) came out to join him for a few – including an epic rendition of Supernatural’s (Da Le) Yaleo. More than willing to share the spotlight, and able to keep up with his guest, without competing, Santana again gave the music centre-stage.

Did he get lost in jam-land? To be sure; what did you expect? But he was smart enough to mix it up with groovy vocal numbers, sung by members of his band. And savvy enough to end the night with a flurry of hits, bringing everyone back on the same page. Black Magic Woman, Gypsy Queen, the imperative Oye Como Va, and Supernatural’s chart-topper Smooth gave the people what they wanted.

Surprise of the night? A cover of Umi Says, by esoteric Brooklyn rapper/singer Mos Def. The chorus, “Umi says shine your light on the world,” was presumably what caught Santana’s ear. To that effect, toss in some well-intentioned statements about peace, harmony, one love, and, yes, the light inside our hearts, and you’ve got the essence of a hippie who never grew up – but played on, and on, and on.
© The Gazette (Montreal) 2008

Santana sets off fireworks in Albany

By DAVID MALACHOWSKI, Special to the Times Union

First published: Saturday, April 12, 2008
ALBANY — Guitar was king Thursday night at Times Union Center when both a young and old master came to town to show us how it’s done.

Carlos Santana formed his namesake band in 1966 in San Francisco and exploded on the national scene after a riveting performance at the Woodstock Festival. Though he never really went away, Santana pulled off one of the more remarkable comebacks in music when he dominated the Grammys in 1999 with “Supernatural.”

Still coasting on the fumes, Santana came to Albany with a set list culled mainly from his older records and the crowd loved him for it. Santana — dressed in a black hat, red hoodie and dark glasses — had a shaman-like quality that informed all that followed. His first offering was a celebratory take on “Jingo” propelled by a relentless rhythm section — drums (the fabulous Dennis Chambers), congas, timbales — and even the horn section joining on shakers, etc. Santana’s searing intensity lifted his fretboard fireworks skyward; though there were Latin and jazz elements in the air, a rock sensibility never left his left hand.

Midway through the show, Santana greeted the crowd, and talked about healing, even sending blessings to former Gov. Eliot Spitzer and his family, reminding the crowd not to point fingers at anyone, because after all, we’re all human and make mistakes. It was powerful but not preachy, and wise use of his position.

It went quickly from head and heart to feet, with the very visceral “No One to Depend On” and the joyous “Oye Como Va.”

Derek Trucks came out and joined the fray for a wild boogie; recent hit “Smooth” was a moment, but the big payoff was “Black Magic Woman,” its dreamy verse fell into soaring solos and the frantic outro that equaled guitar bliss.

As the night wore on, the heat grew, the beat became more relentless, and Santana rained a shower of glorious notes on his enraptured fans like holy water.

Following video clips of the Woodstock Festival (with the crowd chanting along) Santana encored with the over-the-top “Soul Sacrifice,” which drained both band and audience.

And it was good.

While Santana wears his spiritual leanings on his sleeve, Derek Trucks takes a subtler route — his stillness as he hovers over his guitar has an underlying Zen quality. In a satisfying set that showcased his spectacular slide skills, the high point still had to be when Santana came out for a jazzy jam based on “Greensleeves,” which had the crowd going crazy.

Music review


When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Where: Times Union Center, South Pearl Street, Albany

David Malachowski is a local freelance writer from Woodstock and a regular contributor to the Times Union.

Great guitarists leave egos at the door for Albany show

Friday, April 11, 2008

David Singer

ALBANY — Thursday night, an older Times Union Center crowd was treated to two world-class guitarists — one of legend, Carlos Santana, and one heading there, Derek Trucks.
The bigger Santana gets, the more humbler he plays. He scattered his show with video and vocal messages of peace, which permeated his playing, even at its most aggressive moments.
Powered by an army of percussionists, he opened with the hopped-up “Jingo,” timbales, congas, bongos, maracas and more aligning a wall of drums to set the stage for Santana to ring out with his guitar. Only a handful of guitarists have a recognizable one-note tone: Santana is one of them.
In some ways, the show was one long percussion solo, laid over with different vocal melodies and guitar solos, all the moments tense, some beautiful and some thrilling.
His instrumental ballads were gorgeous, sometimes speedy but always controlled. He’s a master at creating space in his solos while attacking aggressively. He did this often Thursday night, leaving room for his drummers to fill. He thrives on his drummers.
The oldies, like “You Can Depend On” and “Oy Ye Como Va,” hit the older crowd hard. Santana blew the roof off of “Black Magic Woman,” one of his and anyone’s greatest tunes of all. The younger folks in the crowd must’ve loved it, given that they have it memorized from the video game “Guitar Hero.”
Santana continued his theme of peace and compassion when he made reference to the recent fall from grace of former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.
“Our hearts go out to the family of the ex-governor,” said Santana, silencing the jeers. “It’s not about condemning or judging; it’s about healing. We’re all human.”
He followed with a song “for the females” in the audience, a gentle duet with the trumpeter. He stepped aside for his band to turn the arena into a dance club for a few numbers before returning with the more current hit “Put Your Lights On.”
He brought on Derek Trucks, and the two of them wandered into the ozone for a while, losing and finding each other in a journey that seemed to have lost most of the audience.
“Happy birthday, Santana’s in town!” a band member yelled.
It was a gift alright, and one of the city’s musical highlights of the year.
Trucks opened the show with a classy set of tempered blues. His songs and playing aren’t far-ranging, but he’s an original and starting to integrate eastern influences with blues. He’s a genuine player heading toward greatness. His southern loyalties ground him well when experimenting, as it did on an instrumental based around “Greensleeves.” Santana joined him on this long jam, and Trucks showed more patience on his solo than even the saintly Santana did.
He pulled together his finest lead during “Get Out of My Life,” then closed the set with the melodic, almost bright “Up Above My Head I Hear Music In the Air.”
Together, Trucks and Santana are two of the most ego-less lead guitarists (an oxymoron?) on the circuit today. More than a pleasure, it was an adventure to see them both in one night. original

April 10, 2008


Santana, the Old and the New, in a Concert Spanning the Decades


“We’re going to give you some more of that radio music you want to hear,” the guitarist Carlos Santana told the audience at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night. “But right now we’re going to stretch out a little bit.” That glimpse into the way Mr. Santana thinks about his music revealed how well he understands the gap between tersely edited, hook-touting pop songs for radio and the percussion-driven jams he unleashes onstage.
It’s a more formatted music world now than it was when Santana, his band, arrived in the late 1960s, and Mr. Santana has grown more savvy about both parts of his job. While he has had ups and downs as a hit maker — since his blockbuster “Supernatural” (Arista) in 1999, he has made albums full of short songs and guest musicians — onstage he’s been doing virtually the same exhilarating thing for the last four decades. The radio hits are only part of a set that revolves around supercharged improvisation. It still works.
Mr. Santana gives his concerts a ’60s frame. An opening video showed a violent world followed by utopian exhortations to be “architects of the new dawn.” The real utopian vision is in the music, which cruises an African diaspora. In the course of Tuesday’s two-and-a-half-hour set the music quoted Coltrane, Hendrix, Tito Puente, Miles Davis, Mongo Santamaria, the Beatles, Gershwin and “Aquarius” (from “Hair”). When the lyrics weren’t about treacherous women — a thread running through Santana hits from “Black Magic Woman” to “Smooth” — they were about hopes for a better world. And that world is summoned directly in the music’s euphoric synergy.
The band has skillful singers: Tony Lindsay leaning toward R&B, Andy Vargas rooted in salsa, although both of them sing in English and Spanish (and a few words of French). Yet its strongest voice is Mr. Santana’s guitar, which constantly asserts itself between vocal lines before taking over fully.
He learned his bending, wailing notes from B. B. King, but his tone and attack are instantly recognizable, as is the basic arc of his solos: fervent but terse melody statements heading for frenetic scales and trills that lead to even more frenetic tremolos, able to match his Latin percussion section impact for impact. Mr. Santana can shred as well as any speed-crazed guitarist alive, but unlike most of them he maintains the vocalistic phrasing and keening sense of meditation he draws from jazz in general and Coltrane in particular.
The slide guitarist Derek Trucks — whose jam band opened the concert, also dipping into Coltrane for a far-reaching “My Favorite Things” — sat in with Mr. Santana. He was skillful and methodical, pinpointing melodies and working through modal permutations. Alongside him Mr. Santana sounded even more flamboyant, a virtuoso and crowd pleaser with a mission — still, long after the ’60s, reaching for ecstasy.

By Chad Berndtson
The Patriot Ledger
Posted Apr 07, 2008 @ 10:23 AM
Last update Apr 07, 2008 @ 10:27 AM

Whether you subscribe to his occasionally preachy messages of peace, faith and unity or not, there’s no denying Carlos Santana and his collection of virtuosos remain one of the more reliable big-ticket rock shows out there, even on a shake-off-the-rust opening night of a tour.

Santana’s 2008 U.S. opener, Friday night at Agganis Arena, promised a more intimate treat for Boston-area Santana fans, considering all six of the band’s headlining shows since 1999 – the year super-smash “Smooth” vaulted Santana back to popular radar – have been at Mansfield’s Tweeter Center, about three times the capacity.

Overall it was a more freewheeling show than previous Santana visits, occasionally to a fault. The vibe seemed a little misplaced, thanks to Agganis’ pushy security, draconian beer policies, a Commonwealth Avenue traffic nightmare and an audience that, except for the main floor section, didn’t get the memo that they were at a Santana concert, not a library.

But it might also have been an uneven set pace and some occasionally flabby jamming, including an uncharacteristic snoozer of a drum solo from Dennis Chambers. The hard-driving “Jingo” opener felt cursory, the band completely omitted the “Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen/Oye Como Va” trifecta, and the set-closing “Smooth” wasn’t nearly as interesting as the “Apache” intro and the “Dame Tu Amor” Latin jam that preceded and followed it, respectively.

The peaks were incendiary, though, and Santana was loose-limbed, upbeat and in a jazz-rock mood. When the band was locked in, it was a beast, especially during a luscious “Maria Maria,” a furiously chugging “Incident At Neshabur,” and the giddy, brass-heavy Latin rave-up “Foo Foo.”

Santana also invited out his nephew Adam Lasher, a Berklee student and leader of a self-named area band, to trade meaty blues-funk licks during “The Calling” and later, in the band’s encore, the Woodstock-era classic “Soul Sacrifice.”

And though it was only the opening night of the tour, Santana did miss an opportunity for a mano-a-mano guitar summit with opener Derek Trucks.

Already a pantheon axe man at age 28, Allman Brother and occasional Clapton sideman Trucks has a tone and style that, like Santana’s, is instantly recognizable and never short on innovation. He and his genre-defying band tucked plenty of soul and instrumental fireworks into a 45-minute set, even if Mrs. Trucks – Norwell’s own Susan Tedeschi – did not make her customary sit-in.

read original here

Santana’s supernatural skills shine when vocals take breather

By Christopher John Treacy | Saturday, April 5, 2008 | | Music News

You’ve probably caught Carlos Santana on TV recently, flirting with Mariah Carey at Macy’s.

It appears that surreal television endorsements are the latest gimmicky twist in the career of a musician so spiritually hyped, you’d assume such blatant commercialism would tarnish him.

Not so.

But as he proved at Boston University’s Agganis Arena last night during the opening U.S. show of his “Live Your Light” tour, Carlos Santana remains faithful to his creative muse before anything else.

Even though his most recent chart success has been as a sideman on radio cuts such as “Smooth” and “Maria Maria” – both of which he performed last night with Andy Vargas singing – the best moments of the show were when vocals took a backseat, usually in the from of bilingual chanting.

After a peace-themed video, Santana and his fiery 10-piece band tore into a ferociously percussive “Jingo” going all the way back to his 1969 debut. Even more pleasing was “Incident at Neshambur” from 1970’s “Abraxas” that transformed from a spicy hot jam into a slowed Latin jazz rhythm, allowing Santana to do some fancy fretwork over, under and around Chester Thompson’s gorgeous piano melody.

There were a few missteps, including a surprisingly lifeless drum solo from Dennis Chambers. And without Dave Matthews on board, “Love of My Life” came across like Light FM garbage. But all was quickly forgiven by the time the band turned the corner into righteous versions of “Batuka” and “No One To Depend On,” which together comprise the edgy suite that opens “Santana III.”

In a most genuine display of humility, Santana invited his nephew, Berklee student Adam Lasher (who fronts the local Adam Lasher Band) to sit in and jam on the funky strut “The Calling.”

The Derek Trucks Band proved the perfect opener: Trucks’ world-music-infused brand of blues is any true Santana fan’s dream, and the sometimes-Allman Brother is already leaving marks on rock history with his nimble playing. His instrumental spin on Roger and Hammerstein’s “My Favorite Things” grew into a mesmerizing and mysterious musical adventure, augmented by Kofi Burbridge’s organ and flute.

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