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Santana - Santana IV Live At The House Of Blues Las Vegas DVD review

Still hallucinatory after all these years

Santana IV Live At The House Of Blues Las Vegas DVD cover

As the reunited 60s Santana line-up ready themselves for their home run at this showcase gig, Carlos Santana leans into the microphone and suggests that if anyone has brought some mescaline, now might be a good time to take it.

Carlos may have survived the maelstrom that created and destroyed one of the most exhilarating bands of the late 60s by taking a more spiritual path, but he has not forgotten the chemistry – or chemicals – that fuelled them.

Last year’s Santana IV album was a creditable attempt to follow Santana III – albeit 45 years later – pushing their Latin-rock fusion rather than the jazzier direction the reconstituted band actually followed it with on Caravanserai. Wisely the reunited band acted their age, relying on maturity rather than youthful hedonism.

They take the same approach live, blending the new material with the old, but there’s nothing tentative as guitarists Carlos and Neal Schon swoop and soar around the incessant Latin beats. If you’d taken the mescaline as prescribed you should be peaking as they rip into Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen and Oye Como Va from Abraxas, and then floating as the sprightly Ronald Isley makes a guest appearance on vocals. It all sounds pretty good on a can of John Smith’s Bitter too.

Hugh Fielder has been writing about music for 47 years. Actually 58 if you include the essay he wrote about the Rolling Stones in exchange for taking time off school to see them at the Ipswich Gaumont in 1964. He was news editor of Sounds magazine from 1975 to 1992 and editor of Tower Records Top magazine from 1992 to 2001. Since then he has been freelance. He has interviewed the great, the good and the not so good and written books about some of them. His favourite possession is a piece of columnar basalt he brought back from Iceland.