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Santana Is Rock Solid at the FirstBank Amphitheater in Franklin

by Rich and Laura Lynch

"We love your energy," remarked Carlos Santana from the stage at the picturesque and brand-new FirstBank Amphitheater in Franklin, Tennessee during the encore of his hit packed concert in Mid-Tenn on Wednesday, September 29, 2021 while describing the one word that is needed to explain a Santana concert - energy.

It was a blessing and a miracle to be in the presence of this man in Tennessee.

Carlos Santana's own unique energetic style of play has pervaded the public consciousness going back to 1969 when his wildly expressive performance in upstate New York helped define him and his joyful Latin-centric jam band as the spirit of Woodstock. Their self-titled debut record and 1970 follow-up would secure the group's place as a staple on classic rock radio throughout the decade.

In the 80's Santana would experience his first notable comeback with the help of hit songs like "Winning" and "Hold On" that benefited from heavy rotation on the nascent MTV music video channel. But, this reemergence was to be overshadowed by the Supernatural reintroduction to the masses that was sponsored by music industry executive Clive Davis who felt that by the time the new millennium rolled around that Santana's talents were perhaps underutilized and unappreciated by the greater listening public.

Carlos Santana's band was populated with many fine singers who did justice to the songs.

Davis proved right and the collaborative project that featured Carlos jamming with many stars and upcoming artists of the day including Eric Clapton, Rob Thomas, Eagle-Eye Cherry, Lauryn Hill, Dave Matthews, Maná, KC Porter and CeeLo Green went on to sell over 30 million copies worldwide and would rank as the best-selling album by a Hispanic artist while peaking at number one in many countries. Santana has not slowed down since.

From a career as long and diverse as this, Santana was able to forge a fantastic setlist by mining many of these productive periods for a non-stop night of crowd pleasing action. The opening numbers went all the way back to the beginning to set the hypnotic pace with the stirring "Soul Sacrifice", an enticing "Evil Ways" and a bewitching "Black Magic Woman". Favorites from Supernatural emerged later in the show. "Put Your Lights On" encouraged crowd participation as the nearly 7500 in attendance put their phones in the air. "Maria Maria" had the crowd up on their feet while "Smooth" took up its rightful place in the encore.

More scenes from the fine show at the FirstBank Amphitheater.

Santana's band was on fire featuring a back line of three percussionists - including the talented Cindy Blackman Santana who was positioned prominently in the spotlight at center stage where she would be showcased during an extended drum solo late in the concert. A bevy of vocalists helped bring the catalog to life and featured singer Andy Vargas who was more than up to the task of fronting this famous rock and roll outfit. Carlos introduced keyboardist Dave Matthews (no, not that one) who himself was rock solid all night long adding the all important B3 sound and additional tones that underscore the great Santana songs.

This was the third to last night on "The Blessings And Miracles" Tour - named for Santana's new album that will be released worldwide on October 15. Carlos revealed from the stage that this new project was conceived during the "incubation" period that we all just went through. Due to the lockdown and restrictions Santana reported that he didn't meet many of the artists or producers associated with the record as it was all crafted via Zoom. Still, that hindrance didn't impact the album in any way as Carlos stayed with the formula that has worked well in recent years combining high profile guests including a returning Rob Thomas, guitar greats and compelling covers for a disc that once again should be one for the record books.

Carlos Santana found a new home while playing in a venue hewn from solid rock.

"This is beautiful, we might have found a new home," Carlos enthused when describing the Nashville region's newest venue. The FirstBank Amphitheater is a world-class destination nestled within a wooded, natural stone and park-like setting. The set-up allows spectators to experience all that Tennessee has to offer including top quality music and breathtaking natural beauty. Hewn from the remnants of a working quarry the amphitheater went online in August of this year - albeit, to a bit of a rocky start. However, many of the well publicized traffic issues that occurred on opening night appear to have been mostly resolved - especially if you get there early.

SETLIST: Soul Sacrifice | Jin-go-lo-ba | Evil Ways | Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen | Oye como va | Samba pa ti | Everybody's Everything | A Whiter Shade of Pale | She's Not There | She's Fire | Move | (Da le) Yaleo | Put Your Lights On | Corazón espinado | Europa (Earth's Cry, Heaven's Smile) | Maria Maria | Foo Foo | Encore | Are You Ready | Smooth | Love, Peace and Happiness | Get Together

Nearly 7,500 fans turned out to see rock legend Carlos Santana in Franklin.

Related Links: For more information on SANTANA and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Santana | FirstBank Amphitheater


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