Spirits Dancing in the Flesh

Santana - Rusted Root

New World Music Theatre - Tinley Park

July 2, 1997

First Appeared in The Music Box, August 1997, Volume 4, #8

Written by John Metzger


On July 2, the perfect pairing of Santana and Rusted Root performed to a near sell-out crowd at Tinley Park's New World Music Theater. This show provided quite a contrast to the U2 extravaganza that took place during the previous weekend.

Rusted Root took the stage promptly for an hour-long set that included a number of songs from their first major label release When I Woke. The show opened with a rousing Laugh as the Sun that suffered only from a poor and distorted vocal mix. The problem cleared up by the conclusion of Heaven, the first spiritually-influenced song of the night, which found singer Michael Glabicki repeatedly chanting, I'll take good care of myself.

Cat Turned Blue broke loose for an enormous rhythmic jam that floated through a portion of Bob Dylan's classic All Along the Watchtower. This worked the crowd into a dancing frenzy that held through the remainder of the show.

After a brief drum solo, Martyr, with its South African rhythms, ensued and drifted into a beautiful version of Back to the Earth. Much to the band's amazement, the audience joined in for a sing-along that was truly sweet. Next, Jim Donovan added some tasty mandolin playing to Baby Will Roam.

Rusted Root's conclusion included a revamped Food and Creative Love that began as a slow, bluesy number featuring Liz Berlin on vocals. The band pulled a sudden tempo change, and Glabicki stepped up to the microphone to perform the song in its more familiar, up-tempo version. This led to a pounding Send Me on My Way which drifted into an amazing Drum Trip that featured all off the band members on percussion. Next was the obligatory Ecstasy, which built to an incredible level of intensity and sounds as fresh as ever. This had the audience going wild and provided the perfect set break, as we all needed a rest! Amazingly, the audience seemed more familiar with Rusted Root's material than with Santana's, despite Santana's performance of a number of cover songs. Sensing this, Carlos Santana spaced out the surprises to provide an even-keeled, two-hour set which was heavy on rhythms and incredible guitar playing.

Santana makes it look so effortless as he belts out sweet, electrified jams. In addition, he has surrounded himself with an incredible group of musicians from his funky bass player to the swirling keyboards of Chester Thompson.

Opening with an instrumental improvisation, the band literally warmed up on stage. After revealing a spectacular backdrop and announcing that there are angels among us, the band produced a stellar performance of Marvin Gaye's Right On. If you are not familiar with this song, you are missing out on one of the best albums ever created What's Going On.

Singer Tony Lindsay did a spectacular job on the vocals all night long, but on this opening song, he really shined. His passionate singing and soulful voice added an endearing charm to his pleas for harmony and equality.

The highlight of the evening came midway through Santana's set as Rusted Root joined the band on stage to perform three songs, including a mind-blowing medley of Bob Marley's Exodus and Get Up, Stand Up. There were so many people on stage, it was impossible to keep track of what was going on. The rhythms pounded and drove the music, which in turn powered the audiences' feet to move. The blistering electric guitar of Carlos Santana was matched by the mellow acoustic playing of Michael Glabicki.

Following a tribal drum excursion, Santana returned for a soulful performance of I Want You to Love Me (Just Like I Love You), which again gave Lindsay a chance to shine. Santana recaptured the audience's attention with a short Black Magic Woman. Throughout the evening, Santana had teased Black Magic Woman by starting just about every solo with that familiar opening note. Each time, he had ventured off into some other incredible direction, and the audience seemed dumbfounded. The audience finally got their wish, and this led to a delightfully jammed Gypsy Queen and a percussive Oye Como Va, which included a tease of Cream's Sunshine of Your Love. For an encore, Santana tuned with a Hendrix-style blues riff which led to a blistering Voodoo Chile.

If you get a chance to catch these two groups this summer, their styles fit together perfectly. Deadheads, if you're looking for a place to shake your bones, this is the place to do it. I have been trying to catch a Santana concert for years and am glad I finally had the opportunity. Seeing Rusted Root open the show was an added treat.

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Copyright 1997 The Music Box