By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa
Live Review: Carlos Santana and Earth Wind and Fire – Miraculous Supernatural Tour –Mid-Florida Credit Union Amphitheatre, Tampa, FL- August 27, 2022
*Last stop of the tour
On Saturday, Carlos Santana and Earth Wind and Fire rolled into the Mid-Florida Amphitheatre to a barrage of lightning and rain showers. Roads were flooded just getting to the venue, which made me wonder if the show would be canceled. Fortunately not (albeit delayed), Earth Wind and Fire hit the stage around 8 p.m. after the rain was reduced to mere sprinkles.
Wearing sparkly attired in red, black, and white, the band Earth Wind and Fire came on stage to a happy—yet damp—sold-out show. With choreography reminiscent of Motown singers, the band pranced, danced, and vamped across the stage singing 70s funk favorites such as “Shining Star”, “Serpentine Fire”, and “Sing a Song”.
Formed in 1969 in Chicago by the late Maurice White, three original members in the band include Verdine White (bass), Philip Bailey (vocals), and Ralph Johnson (percussion). Earth Wind and Fire include almost a dozen members, including an impressive brass and percussion section. Some of these cats are in their 70s and showed no signs of stopping any time soon.
During the show, a lot of the audience members were standing and dancing—even in the aisles. Hearing songs like “Reasons” took me back to high school dances, bringing warm memories. When I looked around I saw many with eyes closed and heads tilted back, swaying to the beat. Bailey hit and held some impressive high notes and Gary Bias’ sax solo was fantastic.
Hit after hit, the band performed memorable songs such as “That’s the Way of the World” and “Boogie Wonderland”, which had the entire audience on its feet. It was a funk disco dance party by the end of the set with “Let’s Groove” and “September”. Honestly, seeing and hearing the band was pure entertainment and joy for anybody that grew up with their music.
It was 9:30 p.m. by the time a video of indigenous people playing rhythms was shone on a screen and Carlos Santana and his band (another large orchestra) which included two drum kits and multiple percussive instruments). Wearing a Bob Marley shirt and hat, Santana sauntered across the stage performing the memorable “Soul Sacrifice”, “Jin-go-lo-ba” and “Evil Ways”, taking us back to Woodstock, New York in 1969. The classic 60s/70s theme continued with “Evil Ways”, “Oye Como Va”, “Black Magic Woman”, and “Everybody’s Everything”.
One favorite moment of the evening was the band performing “No One to Depend On” which featured short solos by band members, highlighting their skills. David Mathews mesmerized with his organ virtuosity and bass player Benny Reitveld performed a jazzy solo, earning a standing ovation. Impressive was the drumming of Cindy Blackman Santana, who is possibly is one of the top 5 drummers in the world—always energetic and on point. Paoli Mejías killed it on the congas as the song melded into a salsa fusion.
“Europa” featured lovely harmonies between guitar player Tommy Anthony and singers Ray Greene and Andy Vargas, who often pranced on stage, bobbing like a rapper. Ray Greene doubled on trombone during the evening, which showed off his skills not only as a singer but a multi-instrumentalist.
A Latin funk version of the Zombie’s “She’s Not There” segued into other songs with the same beat like War’s “Spill the Wine” and Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”.
Santana performed very emotive guitar playing with its distinctive sound that never ceases to impress. During the evening, he seemed to stay on the sidelines and let his band shine. He paused during a song break, thanked the audience for “putting up with the weather”, and gave a heartfelt 2 ½ minute soliloquy regarding religion and spirituality saying, “It is important to know that every one of you is celestial…like Bob Marley said ‘we have been liberated from mental slavery’.”
The evening continued with “Put Your Lights One” which prompted the audience to hold their cell phones high with the flashlight on, illuminating the amphitheatre. People had their eyes closed and the venue had a feeling of being in mass.
It felt like a salsa dance party when the audience stood and danced to “Corazon Espinado”, “Maria Maria”, and “Foo Foo” before coming to an end. It was almost 11 p.m. by this time and the audience was cheering for more. Santana reemerged and the band performed “Smooth” and The Chambers Brothers’ “Are You Ready?” and “Love, Peace, and Happiness”.