And Santana and Journey were in Las Vegas concurrently Wednesday night.
Know where I’m going with this?
Journey, starring sinisterly shaded guitarist Neal Schon, played a sold-out show at the Pearl at the Palms. Along with bassist Ross Valory, Schon is a charter member of Journey, something even the band’s great vocalist Steve Perry and current veteran multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Cain can’t claim.
Schon and Journey’s original keyboardist, Gregg Rolie, had both split from Santana to launch the new rock band from San Francisco in 1973. Rolie played in the legendary Santana appearance at Woodstock in 1969, while Schon joined the band in 1971. Through the course of time and lineup changes, Carlos Santana, Schon and Rolie had not performed onstage together since 1972.
But that changed Wednesday at the end of Journey’s two-hour show at the Pearl.
There were murmurs during the performance that Santana (who headlines at House of Blues in Mandalay Bay and lives in Las Vegas) was in the wings with a guitar hoisted over his shoulder. These murmurs were particularly convincing for some of the instrument arranging that was occurring.
At the end of the encore, even after white confetti had sprayed the delirious crowd, a second synthesizer was pulled onstage. Without introduction, Santana and Rolie appeared and jammed to great delight for five minutes, Santana striding across the stage to nod at Cain, vocalist Arnel Pineda and drummer Deen Castronovo.
The band then vaulted into the sizzling instrumental “Soul Sacrifice,” immortalized on the Woodstock soundtrack and concert film (Santana has long spoken of being spirited away on mescaline during that performance). Schon, Rolie and Santana were frequently set apart, having a good mini-jam amid the roar of the band.
With Castronovo grabbing the mic to bark goodnight to Vegas, the full band gathered for a final bow. But not Santana. He just grinned in a spiritual sort of way and gave a sheepish wave to the crowd.
He’d already said, and done, enough.