Welcome to my Sunday -normally a book review, but today a concert review. It’s been quite awhile since I went to a concert, but my cousin bought us tickets a few months ago for my recent June birthday to go see Carlos Santana on his 2019 tour stop in Toronto at the outdoor Budweiser stadium in downtown Toronto. The opening band was The Doobie Brothers! What a blast from the past!
This was the second time I’ve seen Santana in concert – the first time I saw him at our once famed Maple Leaf Gardens which was our main venue for concerts (and hockey of course!) back in the day over 30 years ago. And I can say with certainty that Carlos still holds the magic in his musical fingers because he could still make that guitar sing till it gave me goosebumps.
I was doubly excited to listen to both The Doobie Brothers and Carlos Santana. Sure, I know many of the best musicians from my day are still touring around the world, even though some are now past their sell by date, but it appears that a full 16,000 capacity stadium didn’t let the decades past deter them or me from revisiting a nostalgic part of our past.
We first had to join one of the excruciatingly long lineups just to get in the grounds for security checks where we were body searched and bag searched. As much as I know of what this world has become, and there was none of this back in my days of concert going, it made me sad as I stood waiting my turn to enter as I remembered a time when we never gave a thought to guns and crime. I looked around at the crowd from boomers to aged seniors wanting to experience that musical experience once again that belonged to our youth. And I felt how much the world has changed since then. This concert was a welcomed step back in time, if only for a few hours.
The weather called for rain that evening, and it had rained on and off throughout the day. I packed an umbrella and plastic pouched raincoat to prepare for listening in the rain with no cover in the open air stadium. The tickets stated ‘rain or shine’ so there were no refunds. But the weather warnings didn’t seem to deter anyone. There was of course, no smoking – cigarettes or pot allowed in the stadium, which made me laugh as I thought about my old concert days long ago when marijuana was still considered illegal but there were plenty of dubes being smoked in the Gardens despite the law, with barely any consequence – it was expected – it was a concert after all! But if you stepped outside the Budweiser stadium there were designated smoking areas, which of course included marijuana smoking because it’s now legal in Canada. But even though it’s legal here, pot smokers still have to abide by cigarette smoker’s designated area laws.
I did have a chuckle at the ‘yellow shirts’ who were the concert security and couldn’t help but wonder about their training and how effective they could be should anything scary were to happen. I don’t think one of them were over the age of 18, and no threat to anyone. But I was happy to see a nice police presence because after all, sadly, nowhere is safe anymore.
I was happy I’d picked us up a couple of submarine sandwiches (mine gluten-free) for the long ride downtown to the concert as I knew we had no time to stop and eat, and I don’t like to take a gamble on finding anything decent to eat down there. That turned out to be a great idea after watching many grab themselves what looked like soggy reheated food when bringing it to their seats. And the prices were like being robbed! Truly, a can of beer cost $16.50!! Even if I liked beer, they’d never get that kind of ridiculous coin from me. I brought us water and snacks so we were self sufficient.
At 7:15 the Doobie Brothers began their musical appearance. Our seats were not center stage and 3 sections back from the stage, but far from being called nosebleeds. We were strategically located for a quick exit, our seats were last row in our section with our seats in the middle of 2 aisles, which kind of felt like scoring the bonus seats on an airplane with no seats in front of us, but the people traffic up and down was annoying. We could hear perfectly and the 3 big screens gave us the closeups to watch the musicians make magic with their instruments. I have to be honest and say that their sound system didn’t get corrected till halfway through the session, and with only 3 of the original members in the band left, I did not get that ‘Doobie Brother’ feeling, leaving me feeling a sad loss for the good old days. It felt very ‘meh’ to me, after feeling the anticipated excitement of seeing them. And in case you’re wondering where they got their name from, it appears that while the band was still struggling to breakout, one of the member’s roommates at the time offered up the name to them because they smoked so many dubes, lol. Here’s a clip from their encore swan song – Blackwater.
We made our way outside for a break in between bands and alas the rain started pitter-pattering. I whipped out my umbrella as I looked at the grey threatening sky. Before I could fully open it, the drops stopped, and we were lucky a downpour never happened. We passed a merchandise booth and just beat a lineup and purchased our token Santana Tshirts for souvenirs and headed back to our seats.
Enter Carlos Santana, or should I say the sound of his singing guitar entered before the lights shone on the stage. I was transported back to the 80s with the rich sounds of Santana and his band. Although most of his original members are still part of his band, and they were damned good, it wouldn’t have mattered if there were new vocalists or not, as long as Carlos led with his magical music. As it turns out, his newer wife of the past 9 years is his drummer, and that girl can beat out on a drum, as you can hear in this clip of a solo session from her. Cindy (Blackwell) Santana drum solo.
I enjoyed the feeling of joy and happiness which seemed to emanate through the stadium as everyone probably revisited their own personal memories. In the old days we’d flick our lighters on for certain songs. Now it was flashlights turned on people’s phones as we waved them in the air to the rhythm of the music. It was just a beautiful thing. Carlos made a little speech about how he loves the warmth of Canadians who welcome him, and specifically to my city. It left me with a warm and fuzzy, patriotic feeling. Black Magic Woman video below, despite it marked ‘Europa’ because MERCURY gave me so much grief putting the videos together.
It was difficult to remain seated with all that hot Latin music playing, as most of the crowd remained on their feet dancing in their spots. The music took me back to some of my happiest days of my 20s, conjuring up memories of parties, nightclubs and a few sexy men I wondered about what had come of them. He played all my favorites, and I managed to video a few, particularly, Europa, which happens to be my favorite of favorites. It’s all about that long note played that makes the guitar sing at the verse change (located at 1 min and 48 seconds into the vid). I have a clip (with maybe a bit of commentation in the background from me) below.
I’ll share a another clip from the classics. Unfortunately, I wasn’t close enough to the stage to get primo pictures, and did try to aim my phone’s camera to the big screen to get some closeups of Carlos strumming his machine, but at least you can listen. And after all, it’s all about the songs, the mood they create, and the transporting us back to wonderful memories.