The stage lights up at 7:30 sharp to reveal a glamorous arrangement of drums, timbales, congas, keyboards, guitars and a 8 person ensemble befitting the post-modern glam of this art deco venue.
There is no warm up song. The live Santana Tribute “Gringo Jingo,” blasts full speed ahead into Santana’s melodic anthem “Soul Sacrifice.” It’s the kind of music that even though its being played on stage right in front of you, it feels like its really coming from inside of you; brewing up from your gut, filling your head and spilling over into your shoes, your dancing shoes that is. That sentiment was not lost on the dessert eaters as the sounds of dessert forks and spoons clanged on plates as the crowd headed for the dance floor.
Gringo Jingo powered through Santana’s stellar catalog as everyone tried out their salsa for a solid hour or so. The female lead, Abby was a fiery presence, matched only by lead guitarist (Steve Reed’s) raw showmanship as they filled every inch of the club’s stage. The three and four part harmonies added a polished quality to the numbers; reminiscent of Carlos Santana’s own live shows.
The taunting drumbeat of “Jingo” sent the crowd into a frenzy at the end of the first set. The dance floor was flooded again when the drummer arose from his perch to belt out some of Carlos’ contemporary hits like “Smooth” and “Maria Maria,” in a silky voice you wouldn’t expect from a percussionist.
One of the many highlights of the show was a “solo jam session” where members of the band got to show off their instruments and freestyle with “Carlos” as the conductor, a treat for everyone; on stage and off. Yes, these guys looked like they were crazy in love with performing, from the bass player’s groovy moves to the eager thumping of the timbales and congas, to the irrepressible gymnastics of the lead guitarist.
The band treated to the crowd to an encore after they chanted for “one more” at the stage and to anyone on the staff that would listen. At last the stage went dark. The dinner plates had long been cleared, the dance floor was littered with huggers, well-wishers and autograph seekers. Until next time Gringo Jingo.
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