Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ageless wonders Stewart, Santana rock the house

Concert Review Rod Stewart and Santana -- MTS Centre -- Aug. 8, 2014 -- Attendance: sold out 'Ö'Ö'Ö'Ö1/2 out of five Energy and showmanship have not dimmed over decades

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Maybe the adage is right. Age is only a number.

Rod Stewart, 69, and Carlos Santana, 67, proved on Friday night in front of a packed house at the MTS Centre that just because they were born in the 1940s doesn't mean they're done.

Hardly. They have the showmanship and musicianship younger generations would kill for. And both of them look like they have decades in front of them, not just years.

Stewart, the windup act on Friday, took the stage in a shiny silver jacket and black stovepipe trousers -- you have to be fit to wear those -- started with four big hits: Infatuation, Having a Party, You Wear it Well and It's a Heartache. Stewart donned some shades, to the crowd's complete joy, and performed Tonight's the Night, which had his fans singing along with hardly any prompting.

Give credit to Stewart for keeping up with history. During a week when the world remembered the start of the First World War a century ago, he dedicated Rhythm of my Heart to veterans and soldiers still serving. As Stewart and his three sexy backup singers sang, the video screen showed Spitfires and Harriers whizzing by among other military scenes.

Then, Santana, who performed earlier, joined Stewart on a bluesy I'd Rather Go Blind. Santana has collaborated with almost everybody, from Wyclef Jean to Yo-Yo Ma, so teaming up with Rod the Bod was a no-brainer, and a super moment.

Stewart ducked out in the middle of Forever Young, re-emerging in an all-gold suit after a long drum solo that included four percussionists. It was sensational in its ridiculousness.

The highlight of an acoustic set was Van Morrison's Have I Told You Lately, an already sweet song made even sweeter with a lovely violin solo.

The backup singers took over later and channelled the soul and strut of Tina Turner on Proud Mary while Stewart went for his third costume change of the night. All black, if you're keeping score.

He would show silly Internet videos, boot soccer balls into the audience before performing Maggie May, a version identical to the one played thousands of times on the radio since its release in 1971.

Do You Think I'm Sexy? was the inevitable encore, with balloons dropping on the audience and all 18 members of the Stewart show on stage. Earlier, Santana showed off his guitar virtuosity and his devotion to Spanish sounds during his set. He has re-emerged recently with Corazon, his first all-Spanish record, but his psychedelic-era hits, like his openers Hope You're Feeling Better, Everybody's Everything and Black Magic Woman wouldn't be out of place in any Latin nightclub. Two amped-up drummers and the mandatory conga player laid down a salsa beat on steroids and transformed these old rockers into something special.

"It's Friday," Santana said. "Friday, people tend to freak out."

There was good reason to freak out. A Santana career-retrospective video was shown on a giant screen while the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Famer and his 10-piece band unleashed Oye Como Va on the Winnipeg crowd. Black-and-white footage from the 1960s and '70s meshed with contemporary video and the live feed from Friday's show.

While it was no surprise Santana would play a punchy version of Tequila and Smooth, his giant hit from 1999's Supernatural, the band found an offbeat way to wrap up the set -- Roxanne by the Police, sung by guitarist Tommy Anthony, in a key few men dare reach.

All in all, a memorable night of music by people of any age, for people of any age.

alan.small@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 9, 2014 B2

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