At the Borgata Events Center, in Atlantic City, on the last stop of the Transmogrify Tour 2017, master guitarist Carlos Santana reminded the sold-out audience, “What’s in here is real. Outside the intention is to sell you fear.” Despite the lone cry of “no politics,” the Mexican-American musician gently finished his plea for peace and resumed playing.
There was very little patter and conversation during the concert. It began immediately with pulsating rhythmic music that went right through your body and when Santana encouraged the audience to stand, the entire group rose and began to dance. Actually it was near impossible not to move to the music.
The group Santana has been around since the ’60s and on the video screen, movies flashed of a very young Carlos Santana playing at Woodstock. Now years later, the group has become more of a family affair with second wife Cindy Blackman on the drums (she performed an incredible 15-minute solo) and son Salvatore on the keyboards.
Within his guitar solos, Santana included riffs of older songs, and just as we identified songs by Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Fleetwood Mac, he moved on. It was fascinating to see how quickly his hands moved up and down the neck of the guitar, first a red one and then one that looked golden.
The group performed all the familiar favorites and the audience enthusiastically joined in singing “Maria, Maria,” “Evil Ways,” “Soul Sacrifice,” “Smooth,” and “Black Magic Woman.” The group covered other songs as well, including “A Love Supreme” by John Coltrane and “Love, Peace and Happiness” by the Chambers Brothers.
The three screens flanking the stage sometimes focused on the performers but other times showed videos. When Santana played “Oye Como Va,” there were movies of African dancers moving rhythmically to the music. To the strain of “Mona Lisa,” there were classic portraits, including DaVinci’s iconic picture, as one woman’s face melded into another. During the last half hour, each member of the group was introduced and played a solo.
More intimate than Madison Square Garden and other large venues, the Event Center might require a longer drive but it enables you to be closer to some of your favorite performers. Upcoming events include Jerry Seinfeld, Lewis Black, Gabriel Iglesias and Sting.
For close to 2 1/2 hours, we stood, danced and sang. At the beginning, the 70-year-old Carlos advised, “Stand up, you’ll feel like 17. Sit, you feel like you are in the home.” The concert was a fitting finale for the Transmogrify Tour 2017, and we all left somewhat exhausted but feeling like17-year-olds.