Tue, Apr 05, 2011 - Page 16 News List

Weekender: Two legends rock Taipei in first Taiwan shows

Rock fans in Taiwan were treated to impressive performances last week from not one, but two giants of rock ’n’ roll: Santana and Bob Dylan

By David Chen  /  Staff Reporter

Carlos Santana at the Nangang Exhibition Hall on Wednesday last week.

Photo: Taipei Times

Last week was perhaps Taiwan’s most memorable for live rock ’n’ roll, as Carlos Santana and Bob Dylan each performed for arena-sized audiences in Taipei. It was the first appearance in Taiwan for both Santana, who played on Wednesday at the Taipei World Trade Center Nangang Exhibition Hall (台北世界貿易中心南港展覽館), and Dylan, who appeared at Taipei Arena (台北小巨蛋) on Sunday.

The two legends put on impressive shows that showcased their extensive repertoires of songs both classic and contemporary. And despite their age, Santana, 63, and Dylan, 69, proved that their live acts remain as vital as ever.

Whereas Dylan’s concert on Sunday was a no-frills, yet highly rousing roadhouse rock romp, Santana’s show on Wednesday was a carnival-like marathon.

Santana’s 11-member band, which included three percussionists, an organist and a horn section, set the tone for the evening by beginning with the Latin-flavored (Da La) Yaleo from his 1999 blockbuster hit album Supernatural.

The audience, which organizers said numbered around 10,000, responded with loud cheers, and clapped along throughout the concert, which lasted nearly three hours. Santana, who donned an all-white suit and hat, played with signature passion and was on stage for most of the show.

There were plenty of highlights, from high-energy covers of AC/DC’s Back in Black and Cream’s Sunshine of Your Love to the salsa-flavored hits Maria Maria and Smooth, as well as John Coltrane’s jazz classic A Love Supreme.

But it was Santana’s early songs that drew the biggest cheers. The virtuoso guitarist drew an electrifying response as he played the crying notes that began Black Magic Woman. By then, concert security had given up trying to make the audience members at the front stay in their seats.

The band followed with Oye Como Va, during which you could feel the entire floor at the Nangang Exhibition Hall shaking, with most of the audience on their feet and dancing.

The show ebbed and flowed, with some band members performing extended solos to give the rest of the group a break. There was a cameo appearance by Santana’s wife Cindy Blackman (who some will recognize as the Afro-haired drummer in Lenny Kravitz’s video Are You Gonna Go My Way). She played a thunderous drum solo on Corazon Espinado, while Santana’s drummer Dennis Chambers performed a jaw-dropping solo during the show’s three-song encore.

Huge screens above the stage broadcast live video of the band on stage throughout the night, and also indulged in rock nostalgia, showing some past photographs of Santana, including shots of him at Woodstock.

Santana let his hippie colors shine at the end of the show, leading the band and the audience in a chant of “peace and happiness,” and later declaring: “You and I are weapons of mass compassion.” But his audience had already been won over: Before the encore, Santana obliged concert-goers with what sounded like a well-practiced farewell in Mandarin: “Wo ai Taiwan, Wo ai nimen” (我愛台灣,我愛你們, “I love Taiwan, I love you all”).

Bob Dylan, on the other hand, lived up to his reputation as being a man of few words.

His only quip the entire evening was “Oh yeah!” during a break between songs. The lights were off, so it was hard to tell whether he was speaking to his band or addressing an audience member who complimented him on the white hat he donned.

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