Santana's guitar magic outshines Rod Stewart's showmanship in Vancouver

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      At Rogers Arena on Saturday, August 2

      In a perfect rock 'n' roll world, Rod Stewart would quit releasing those snoozy Great American Songbook golden-oldie albums, hook back up with Ronnie Wood and whatever other old Faces members are still kickin', start drinking again, and go out in a blaze of glory on a Faces club tour that includes a stop at the Commodore Ballroom and a set list composed primarily of rowdy tracks from Ooh La La and A Nod is as Good as a a Blind Horse.

      But it's not a perfect rock 'n' roll world, so we're stuck with a Stewart who prefers to stock his current concerts with no Faces songs at all, but a barrage of disco-y '80s hits, sentimental ballads, and time-tested covers.

      The near sell-out crowd at Rogers Arena last night ate it up.

      Stewart took the stage with a band dressed in sixties-era suits and a crew of seven female backing vocalists/multi-instrumentalists in high heels and red miniskirts, and launched right into one of his weakest numbers, "Infatuation". But he soon made up for that poor choice of openers with one of the best tunes of his solo career, "You Wear It Well", from his Never a Dull Moment LP of '72.

      Jet Sutherland

      Stewart's voice seemed in decent shape for the most part, although the swarm of backup singers certainly helped in the second half of his set, when he came off as somewhat tuckered out. But that's what kicking 30 or so autographed soccer balls into the crowd during "Hot Legs" will do to a guy, I guess. He can still get them up into the nosebleeds, too. Maybe the Whitecaps should give him a look.

      There was one awkward part in the show where Stewart became like a Daniel Tosh for the over-50 set by showing a handful of videos from the Internet, including one of a randy dog that attempts to get overly friendly with an old lady. Stewart also tried to garner a few self-deprecating chuckles by displaying the cover of an old Rolling Stone magazine with a quote from himself that read: "I don't want to become a parody of myself at 50 and still be singing 'Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?' ". Then he became a parody of himself at 69 by singing "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?"

      By the time he pulled out his biggest hit ever, "Maggie May", Stewart had the crowd in his back pocket, but I still preferred the opening act, Santana. "Our highest intention is to make you feel goooooood," announced band leader and guitar legend Carlos Santana, and he totally accomplished that goal with a smoking 11-piece band that included his usual triple-threat percussion setup (drums, congas, timbales), a two-piece horn section, and a pair of powerful lead singers.

      Santana's set was a well-balanced mix of Woodstock-era classics ("Soul Sacrifice"), '70s radio staples ("Black Magic Woman"/"Gypsy Queen"), hits from his 15-times-platinum 1999 smash Supernatural ("Smooth", Maria Maria"), and the odd track off his splendid new Spanish-language CD Corazón.

      "We're only an opening band," said Santana at one point, "but we are going to make it really fucking hot for you tonight."

      He wasn't fibbing about that, either.

      Jet Sutherland



      greg Hunt

      Aug 3, 2014 at 4:51am

      Rod Stewart is the best!! His songs are so good they have made me laugh & cry & made me feel more human & normal!! He is one of the Kings!! DONT knock Rod!! He's one of my all time Rock Hero's!! I probably own every Rod Stewart LP or cd!! I DONT own a Santana Record!? What dies that tell you!? Keep on Rockin' Rod!! You're the best & have earned YER way to the Top!! Thx U, Thx U, Thx U Rod for Supplying this world with good Music & for inspiring me!! You're # 1 Fan!! Greg Hunt!!

      Manny Allbeury

      Aug 3, 2014 at 8:47am

      The description of the videos shows how much attention you were paying to the Rod Stewart concert. It was an old woman that the dog was being "overly friendly " with. Regarding Faces numbers, you are obviously unaware that "Sweet little Rock & Roller" and "Rather Go Blind" was recorded by Rod and The Faces and he often includes other Faces numbers in his song list. Regarding the "Parody of himself" Do you honestly believe that Rod would put this on the screen trying to make some profound comment. Duh, It's a joke! as is most of your write up!!!Santana was great, however Rod Stewart has and can fill Rogers Arena without Carlos.

      K. Torres

      Aug 3, 2014 at 12:45pm

      This was a great concert! Both if these greats played up what they are best at..Santana can still make his guitar play music from his soul and it shows. There were times when you could see he was feeling the music and enjoying it as much as we were. Rod Stewart always puts on a good show, and he didn't stint here. He had a great group of great singers and instrumentalist playing. Yet as much as we enjoyed their addition to the show and Rod proudly showed off the talent , he sang song after song of his old hits and a couple of new ones. After all the throat surgery, and other tough spots in his life, he has fought his way back to doing what he enjoys most giving great music. You could see the absolute joy he had when the audience sang back to him. I usually hate it when artists do that, but he was so pleased when the joy was returned, the audience WANTED to sing to him! It was great. One could nitpick at him, citing age and any tiny perceived problems. I saw none. I saw a great showman, giving it his all as he always has, and enjoying every minute of it. I enjoyed every minute with him. These two men gave a great performance and not one I will forget soon. Thank You gentlemen for a GREAT evening!

      Steve Newton

      Aug 3, 2014 at 1:55pm

      Hey Manny: Rod didn't do any songs from the Faces' four albums; that's what I was talking about. As for mistaking an old woman for a little kid in the video clip, there was a huge lighting rig directly in my line of sight and it was hard to tell exactly who or what the dog was trying to hump, but I thought it was a kid. I've corrected that mistake in the review. Thanks for the comment!


      Aug 3, 2014 at 2:09pm

      Rod should get rid of half that set list and stay with the songs that made him who he was in the 70s. The 80s and 90s songs did not have any true soul or staying power.
      He hit a home run on all the songs from the 70s. That is where he belongs. Santana should have been the headliner and anyone who says they do not have a Santana album should get on board right away. He stole the show and when he came on with Rod and took over again he stole it again!
      Was still fun on a great night.

      Martin Dunphy

      Aug 3, 2014 at 2:23pm

      Agreed. Carlos should have headlined. Actually, he should have toured by himself.
      Is this the new concert format? Pair up "legends" to ensure ticket sales and be able to book the biggest venues? It was bad enough having to endure Sting with Paul Simon, but Rod Stewart?

      David stokoe

      Aug 3, 2014 at 4:38pm

      Greg hunt your loss you don't own a Santana record!Stewart should have opened for Carlos,Stewart's panache is tied and predictable and I left the minute he came on!


      Aug 3, 2014 at 8:17pm

      Santana is a huge talent. The fact he wasn't the headliner shows the Gods must be crazy.


      Aug 3, 2014 at 11:18pm

      You guys are crazy. I'm the biggest Santana fan, but as someone that had never even listened to Rod Stewart before that night, I must admit that Rod's set was way better. Everything from the planning of effects/lighting/etc, the musicianship and solos, the arrangement of songs, instruments, overall energy and effort, etc.

      Seriously, Santana is talented and he is one of my favourite guitarists (seen him multiple times because he's awesome), but I think last night's show was a throwback for him. He and his band spent most of the time improvising (this is much easier for world-class musicians to do than we are led to believe) and half-heartedly playing through old hits.

      All in all, the whole concert was amazing though. I'm only saying this if we absolutely must compare their sets.

      Seb Grab

      Aug 4, 2014 at 7:25am

      rod is the greatest rock n roll star of all times.