Greg Rolie - keyboards, vocals; Alphonso Johnson - bass; Michael Shrieve - drums; Chepito Areas - percussion; Chester D. Thompson - drums, percussion; Armando Peraza - percussion; Carlos Santana - lead guitar, vocals
When Carlos Santana decided to hit the road in 1988, the same year this show was recorded, he thought it would be cool to get as much of the classic line-up together as possible to celebrate the band's 20th Anniversary signing to Columbia Records. Columbia, always looking for a chance to cash in on a band's legacy, issued Viva Santana, a retrospective of the group. Carlos was able to get Shrieve, Areas, and Rollie; he supplemented this version with members of the latest line-up, and ex-Weather Report reedman, Wayne Shorter.
The band gives a spirited performance that mixes classic Santana ("Soul Sacrifice" and "No One To Depend On") with newer, unproven tracks. The result is a hybrid of the classic and the contemporary Santana band. Nothing they have done since 1988 matches the intensity of the early Santana shows of 1969 and 1970, but this is still a great night of passionate music.
Originally formed in 1966 as the Santana Blues Band (the name came about because the Musician's Local 802 Union required one member to be listed as the leader and the group picked Santana, although at the time he was just one of the members), by 1968 they had become what would be the last of the golden era San Francisco bands to emerge to national prominence.
Promoter Bill Graham shortened the name to Santana and pushed the Mexican-born guitarist to the forefront of the band, which also included Gregg Rolie on organ and vocals, David Brown on bass, Jose Chepito Areas on percussion, and Michael Shrieve on drums. Graham was able to get them signed to Columbia Records, and a fluke landed them a gig on their first U.S. tour at the Woodstock Music & Arts Festival in August, 1969. Santana blew the festival away with their distinctly Latin-flavored, blues-based rock, and their reputation cast an even larger net with film and soundtrack releases of the event.
After the band's third album, Santana III the Woodstock-era lineup dissolved. Rollie and guitarist Neil Schon would later form Journey. Between 1973 and the early 1990s, Carlos bounced back and forth between a number of solo albums and group lineups that continually changed. Without Rollie to do the well-recognized vocals of the band's earlier hits, Santana became a more instrumentally-driven band.
Carlos Santana (with the help of label exec and mentor Clive Davis) would re-invent himself and his band again in 1999, when Supernatural took them back to the top of the charts on the strength of several popular celebrity duets that included Rob Thomas, Michelle Branch, Everlast, and Wyclef Jean. In 2000, Santana walked away with an amazing eight Grammy Awards for Supernatural.