In the eyes of their fans, age knew no limits Tuesday night at Consol Energy Center as people packed the arena for two powerhouse acts. The seventies were alive and well for many donning their old-school ‘Rod the Mod’ tee-shirts and woodstock gear, potentially obtained at the original events for some.
Santana kicked off the show with a mind-melting selection of music proving age has only improved their performance. Without the aid of flashy gimmicks, half-naked dancers, or any other unnecessary performance aid common on stages today, Santana simply let their music do the talking and the people listened.
With chart topping hits spanning more than 40 years, there is no question Santana’s music bridges generations with the young and old grooving in their seats singing every word, air drumming and air guitar playing every note.
Squeezing in many of their fan-favorites (Which is tough considering the length of many of the songs), Santana had fans moving with “Black Magic Woman” and “Oye Commo Va” from the early days and even more recent hits like “Maria Maria” and “Smooth” from the 90s.
“Man I’m having a flashback,” said Carlos Santana. “I was here in Pittsburgh in 1970 with Janis Joplin and she was singing ‘Piece of my heart.’”
Santana delivered an outstanding performance making them a tough act to follow. Carlos was very interactive to the crowd, even taking a jab at other musicians whose live performances might not be so “live.”
“I don’t know if you can see from over there but we’re not lip synching,” said Santana. “We don’t do that shit. Whatever we give to you we want it to be memorable.”
And memorable it was. From the drums to the guitar, you can’t ignore pure talent and amazement and that’s what Santana brings to the stage - a memorable performance.
So how do you follow a powerhouse act? Well, if you’re Rod Stewart you don your shiny Vegas-style blue suit and hit your disco floor to make all the ladies swoon. Oh and arm yourself with a pretty amazing band of singers, dancers and musicians (which can distract from your aging performance).
Kicking off the show with “Infatuation,” you have to hand it to Rod to be still performing after nearly 50 years! He gyrated for the ladies, put his heart and soul on the stage and donned some pretty “dated” outfits - but the people loved him!
Strutting his stuff around the stage, as only Rod Stewart can, he hit all the fan favorites like “You Wear it Well” and “Tonight’s the Night” and even a newer song “Time.” It was one big sing-a-long at Consol Energy Center led by Stewart himself.
Of course, when you’re touring with a powerhouse musician, like Carlos Santana, you simply must have him return to perform an amazing number for those fans who just needed a little more guitar in their lives. But, Rod didn’t stop spreading the love, he even brought out the local musicians to perform some of the slower numbers like “Have I Told You Lately” and “First Cut is the Deepest.”
“... couple of sit down numbers now so sit down in those seats and enjoy them,” joked Stewart.
Rod picked things back up with a second costume change to the gold suit and a moment for his backup singers to shine - specifically one who channeled Tina Turner with an incredible version of “Proud Mary.”
For his final quick change, Rod donned a rather interesting number with red pants and a floral shirt before performing “Hot Legs” and launching dozens of autographed soccer balls into the crowd (with some impressive distance) and then added a cowboy hat for his encore of “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” which ended with a balloon drop onto the crowd.
To sum up the evening - for my first experience with Santana and Rod Stewart live - it wasn’t bad. Santana defiantly outshined Stewart by leaps and bounds, but both artists are still loved by many and put on a good show. It was well worth the trip downtown.