Since the 1960s, Santana has been combining rock with Latin, jazz, blues and African elements, making for a sound uniquely theirs. Led by guitarist Carlos Santana, the group has survived many changes in popular tastes, as well as their own numerous band lineups. Perhaps most famous of those lineups is the one that last recorded together for 1971's Santana III. Besides Santana, the lineup boasted Neal Schon on guitar and Gregg Rolie on keyboards and vocals (Both of who would soon form Journey), Michael Shrieve on drums and Michael Carabello on percussion.
In spite of fans wishes for them to reform, the seeds of the group's reunion weren't planted until a few years back when Schon suggested to Santana that they record together. Santana liked the idea and a full-blown Santana reunion would soon follow with the resulting album, Santana IV, being a continuation of where the group left off all those years ago with Santana III. In March 2016, the group treated lucky fans at the House of Blues in Las Vegas to a reunion concert, mixing new tracks with old favorites. The result is a killer DVD/CD Santana IV - Live At The House Of Blues Las Vegas.
The show opens with a fantastic salvo from the group's self-titled debut. The instrumental "Soul Sacrifice" showcases the considerable rhythmic talents of Shrieve, Carabello and Karl Perazzo while allowing Santana the chance to offer some blistering lead work of his own. Rolie is all smiles as he delivers some killer keyboard work on his Hammond B3. "Jingo" follows and finds the band locked into a tight groove. Amidst his faster runs, Santana hold some single notes out for what seems like an eternity, proving that less can often be more. The band gives a strong performance of "Evil Ways" before Santana introduces Neil Schon, who he trades leads with to finish out the number.
Schon gets to shine with a dazzling solo on the up-tempo rocker "Everybody's Everything" from Santana III. The knowing looks and smiles on stage are a great indicator that all involved have lost none of their chops to the passage of time. A hard-edged "Shake It" from Santana IV follows, proving the new material is worthy of standing with the group's classics. Santana gives a wah-drenched solo before giving way to Schon's more metallic offerings in this strong track.
Santana and Schon trade leads on an emotional "Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen" before the band launches into a celebratory "Oye Comova" with the pair giving scorching leads once again. The group comes back for an encore, introducing Ronald Isley, who gives excellent readings of the Santana IV tracks "Love Makes The World Go Round" and "Freedom In Your Mind." A fiery "Toussaint L'ouverture" closes the proceedings in the same exciting fashion in which they began.
The concert is well filmed and is presented in 16:9 Widescreen format. Audio options include DTS Digital Surround Sound, Dolby Digital: Surround and 5.1 Stereo. An interview with the band is included as a bonus feature.
Too often reunions by classic bands fail to recapture the magic of their youth. Santana is a glaring exception to this rule, with all of the players still in top form and having lost none of their fire. Schon has expressed hope that the band will perform more live dates. One can hope as Santana IV - Live At The House Of Blues Las Vegas is as great a reunion performance as one could hope for.