Santana & Counting Crows Convey Dazzling Performance At Pine Knob

Santana and Counting Crows presented an enduring concert on Tuesday night at Clarkston’s Pine Knob Music Theatre.
The pair of artists are currently crossing the United States on their Oneness Tour, which kicked off on June 14th in Hollywood, Florida.

Santana’s epic career has now spanned more than five decades. The band appeared at the legendary Woodstock festival in August of 1969, mere days before the release of their self-titled debut album. Santana is also celebrating the 25th anniversary of their unbelievably acclaimed 18th studio album, Supernatural. The album showcases Santana’s talent and fusion of multiple genres including rock, jazz, blues and Latin music, while pairing with contemporary artists.
Fabled guitarist, Carlos Santana, was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, along with the other members his band. He is also widely regarded as one of the greatest guitarists of all time.
As a band, Santana has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide and has won multiple Grammy Awards.
In addition to Carlos Santana’s vast influence, he remains one of the few guitarists identifiable by the ethereal tone of his guitar and his unique style of playing.
Santana’s effortless blend of numerous genres has challenged the possibility of radio play and what popular music is capable of being, and has been doing so since before world music was classified as a genre.

Carlos Santana has left an indelible mark in the world, not just in music, but as a humanitarian as well. In 1998, he and his family founded The Milagro Foundation, which assists under-privileged children around the world in the realms of health, education and the arts.

Counting Crows have now entered their third decade of making music. The talented musicians broke onto the scene in 1993 with their multi-platinum debut album, August and Everything After. Over more than thirty years, Counting Crows have been a radio staple with hits like “Mr. Jones”, “A Long December” and “Accidentally in Love”.
The band has sold more than 20 million albums worldwide. Their latest EP entitled, Butter Miracle, Suite One was released in 2021.

To kick off the night, Counting Crows took to the stage as “Stand!” by Sly and the Family Stone played. Several in the crowd stood and cheered to welcome the band as they immediately started into the song, “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby”.
Straight away, their harmonies sounded full and complimentary, which was a theme that carried along throughout their set. Their personal, storytelling lyrics drew each listener in.
Appropriately, lead singer Adam Duritz shouted out guitarist Dan Vickrey before continuing with the lyric, “Hey Dan! We shout out these songs against the clang of electric guitars.” Vickrey’s guitar rollicked along as they continued with the verse.

After “Hard Candy”, an electric melody jammed into “Mr. Jones”. The audience cheered to greet the recognizable tune. Duritz stood atop a monitor and raised his hands to encourage the audience to sing along with the hit.
Later in the set, acoustic guitar played through as the band delivered a beautiful rendition of the Jackson C. Frank track, “Blues Run the Game”.
The band then bestowed a spectacular cover of “Friend Of The Devil” by the Grateful Dead. Several audience members hollered and cheered as they recognized the track. Counting Crows’ exceptional harmonies beautifully rounded out the performance.

During “Round Here”, Duritz covered his face to sing, “She says it’s only in my head”, making the expressive song even more beautifully emotive.

A piano was wheeled center stage for an alluring presentation of “A Long December”. With David Immerglück on mandolin, Duritz passionately played piano and sung out the song’s heartfelt lyrics. Immerglück consistently tossed out guitar picks in between songs as a welcome offering.

Counting Crows closed out their set with “Hanginaround” and “Holiday in Spain”.

Once the stage was set, Santana emerged just after 9 PM. Carlos Santana wore an ivory hat and Jimi Hendrix shirt as a nod to his fellow Woodstock performer. The full band presented a sanguine sound to get the party started.
After their opening song “Toussaint L’Overture”, Carlos addressed the crowd. “Thank you so much! By grace, I wake up each morning to learn something new.” He spoke about a word whose meaning is to meditate where nothing can disturb you. A moment of peace, tranquility and being centered.

The band then continued into the beautiful “Sacalo” and a cover of “Jin-Go-Lo-Ba” as a salute to Nigerian Percussionist, Babatunde Olatunji.
The talented Ray Greene fronted vocals for the iconic track, “Black Magic Woman”. A well-lit, colorful stage highlighted the hues of the tour and gave a perfect ambience for the band.

During “Oye Como Va”, the backdrop screen showcased Santana’s tours and music videos throughout the years. The knowledgeable crowd sang along with the final, “UH!” to close out the song from Santana’s Abraxas album.

The band then sauntered into “Everybody’s Everything” as they traded off lead vocal duties. With Cindy Blackman Santana accompanying on drums, Benny Rietveld instituted an unbelievable bass solo. With a combination of strumming and plucking the strings, he moved along his fret board at dizzying speed. At one point, he played the unmistakable riff from Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man”. Lights strobed above the stage to accent the feverish sound. The crowd roared for the pair’s display of other-worldly talent.

The rest of the band returned as Carlos Santana spoke again to the audience. He made sure to shout out his wife on drums and encouraged the crowd, “I’m going to share something with you because besides the music, we’re going to give you something that you can utilize and become twice as profitable and successful. It goes like this. This guy prayed all his life to win the lottery. So he says to God, ‘God, I prayed all my life to win the lottery, what happened?’ God said, ‘Well, you can at least get off your ass and go by the ticket! I’d like to help you but you need to buy the ticket!’ So it’s like that. Learn to submit your request to God at any level. There’s no little miracles. Just the miracles. He can do it, he will give it to you. Visualize receiving what you’re asking for and you’re having a party already. The more you visualize enjoying it, the faster it will come to you – dig it?  Thank you so much, that’s for you!”
He then continued playing the band into “Europa”. To close out the song, he included a riff from “Row Row Row Your Boat”. The crowd clapped and sang along to the tune, “… life is but a dream!”

As Santana started into “The Game Of Love”, they enlivened the audience, “Put those hands together for me one time! Come on! Put those hands up, come on y’all!” Ray Greene powerfully led the vocals for the Supernatural track.

During the upbeat, “Yaleo”, members of the crowd danced along as Santana contributed vocals.
An acoustic guitar then strummed into “Put Your Lights On”.
“Hey now all you sinners, put the lights on. Put your lights on!” The audience responded by lighting up their phone flashlights and holding up their lighters. During the lovely track, the band encouraged, “Pine Knob! How about a round of applause for Mr. Carlos Santana!” The crowd roared for the legendary musician.

To transition into “Maria Maria”, the band shouted out a modified intro, “Michigan! Put your hands in the air, make some noise! Santana’s in the house! You’re all about to get down to the sound of Carlos Santana!” The crowd swayed along to music and the song’s unmistakable guitar riff.

Next, Santana kept the celebration going with “Foo Foo”. During an extended instrumentation, vocalist Andy Vargas sang out, “Everybody stand up! Excuse me, I just speak Spanish! Everybody JUMP!”

Carlos Santana danced off stage, but soon returned to keep the evening alive with “Soul Sacrifice”. The audience cheered and grooved along to the vibrant percussion. Mrs. Blackman Santana kept the rhythm strong with an unbelievable drum solo.
Carlos Santana came back to the stage to shout out his wife, “Cindy Blackman Santana! That’s my wife over there, so beautiful! In order to play like that, you have to have discipline, dedication, devotion, diet. If you try to play like that without having those things, you will fucking pass out! To play a whole concert and to play a solo like that, you’ve got to be in shape!”

He then took a moment to introduce each of his accompanying musicians before finishing the band’s set with “Smooth”. Carlos Santana’s guitar soared over the music theatre as the crowd danced and sang along with each lyric.

Santana and Counting Crows will be continuing their unforgettable Oneness Tour across America into September.

Article and photos by : Tiffany “Rune” Cuthrell

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