Carlos Santana has been in the headlines a lot this year. He released a new EP in January. That record – In Search of Mona Lisa — was followed up in June, with a new full-length album, Africa Speaks. Early this month, even more music from Santana saw the light of day with a new archived concert from Shout! Factory, Icon Television Music, Inc. and Sony Music in the form of Live at Us Festival. Originally recorded Sept. 4, 1982, the vintage recording was released on Blu-ray Sept. 6, almost 37 years to the day after the concert featured in the presentation. The recording is another welcome presentation for fans of Carlos Santana in part because of its set list, which will be discussed shortly. The recording’s editing adds to its interest and will be discussed a little later. The bonus content featured with the recording rounds out its most important elements. Each item noted here plays its own part in making the concert appealing for Santana fans and music fans alike. All things considered, they make the recording in whole, one more of this year’s top new live Blu-rays and DVDs.
Carlos Santana’s latest live recording Live at Us Festival is an enjoyable new offering from one of the elder statesmen of the music industry that his fans and music fans alike will enjoy. That is due in part to the set list featured in this vintage concert recording. The show’s set list is made up of a total of 13 songs, two of which – ‘Gypsy Queen’ and ‘Marbles’ – are actually part of some two-song collections. The songs in total show, even then, they wide range of Santana’s talents and his fellow musicians. The whole thing opens with a performance of the group’s own work, ‘Searchin,’ which is then followed up by the first of the two-part pieces, ‘Black Magic Woman’/’Gypsy Queen.’ What is important to note here is that ‘Black Magic Woman’ was originally composed by peter Green and made famous by Fleetwood Mac. Fleetwood Mac is a far cry, stylistically, from Santana. Yet Santana and company made the song their own, and did so impressively at that. The musicianship of the percussionists – Raul Rekow, Armando Peraza and Orestas Vilat – adds so much to the performance. The control they have on their respective instruments is astonishing in the best way possible. Much the same can be said of the trio’s performance during ‘Savor.’ The timbales, guiro and congas really serve as the backbone for the arrangement, which in this case is one of the group’s originals. The keyboards, handled by Richard Baker, add even more enjoyment to the performance. This is just one more way in which the set list shines. Between the group’s own originals and its covers, the whole of the set list makes for a presentation that without any doubt, will keep audiences fully engaged and entertained. The only down side to the whole thing is the fact that audiences don’t get the band’s whole set in this concert. Also featured in the concert were performances of the songs ‘Primera Invasion,’ ‘Dealer/’Spanish Rose’ and ‘Soul Sacrifice.’ They were also omitted from the concert’s broadcast on AXS TV. That aside, what is presented in terms of the set list and performance thereof is enjoyable in its own right. To that end, it creates a solid foundation for the recording’s whole.
While the concert footage featured in the recording is a key piece of its whole, it is not the recording’s only important element. The recording’s editing plays into its whole, too. In examining the editing, the most notable aspect thereof is the separation of the recording between its concert and interview segments. Each performance segment is preceded by an interview segment with Santana that is clearly much more recent than the footage from the concert. Those breaks from the concert not only serve to help the recording’s pacing, but also to make the overall presentation more personal for viewers. That is thanks to Santana’s very real and frank commentaries. Those commentaries tackle a variety of topics, such as his view about the roots of what so many people label as Latin music, “real guitarists vs. not-so-real guitarists,” and the purpose of music. Those discussions in themselves are just as certain to keep viewers entertained and are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The bonus extended interviews featured with the recording make for even more interest.
The extended discussions that are featured as bonus content show Santana’s lighter side as he talks about “real guitarists” playing from all throughout inside instead of just their fingers. He also goes into more depth about his sound and that of his band not really being a signature sound. That discussion is one of the most enlightening of the discussions. He also goes into more depth as to his view of how “Latin” music has been mislabeled by the powers that be. Between these discussions and more, the extended discussion cuts truly are bonuses that are just as worth taking in as the concert’s main footage. When both elements are considered along with the recording’s editing, the whole of the recording becomes a presentation that Santana’s fans will appreciate just as much as music fans in general.
Live at Us Festival is a positive new offering from Carlos Santana that music lovers across the board will appreciate. It offers a set list that clearly puts on display the talents of Santana and his fellow musicians and the breadth of the band’s influences. That in itself makes the concert well worth viewing. The concert’s editing ensures even more, its appeal for viewers, as it is broken up into varying live and interview segments. The bonus extended interview cuts that are featured with the recording put the final touch on the recording’s whole. Each item discussed is important in its own way to the whole of the recording. All things considered, they make Live at Us Festival one more welcome addition to the music libraries of Santana’s most devoted fans and of audiophiles in general. More information on this and other titles from Shout! Factory is available online now at:
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