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Santana ...Never Fade's Away- 8/17/99 Conord, CA.

.........Santana at Concord..

Blazing guitars and rhythmic tunes of Mana / Santana ruled the night Tuesday at the concert at the Concord Pavilion. And it was a long night, starting at 6:30 p.m. with a brief set by the Los Angeles-based rap/funk/salsa fusion band Ozomatli. But when the Mexican rock band Mana took the stage at 7:30 p.m., it seemed the house (estimated at about 14,000) had come alive. Despite some critics' claim that Mana is a simple Police knockoff, the band rocks hard live and its hard- charging rock energy is contagious. Most of the band's songs, especially "Me Vale" and "Hechizera" sent the throngs into a celebration frenzy, standing and writhing in place. Mana

..........But Mana also connected with its anthemic ballads like "Vivir Sin Aire," about idealistic romance, and "En el Muelle de San Blas," about reflection. For Mana, which in previous tours has played midsize venues of 5,000 to 6,000 fans, playing the Concord Pavilion was an opportunity to stretch out in a larger venue and band members handled it well. Lead singer Fher in particular appeared relaxed and in control, whether he was gesturing to the upper decks on a torchy tune, or running back and forth on the stage, his long, wavy hair flying, trying to get the audience worked up - which wasn't hard. The fans knew most of the lyrics, and Fher was gracious enough to lower his mike often, to let the house sing along on "Rayando el Sol," a rock ballad about refusing to accept the end. At the midmark, a drum solo including a workout by the percussionist, did little to calm the rambunctious crowd. In the end, Mana's set had all the basics - anthemic songs, fiery guitars, long hair and arena gestures typical of a rock concert. It may be called a Rock en Espanol band, but its music easily transcends language. Mana ended its too-short set at 9 p.m. with two encores, including the raucous "Clavado en Un Bar," which got everyone on their feet and even the agitated crowds up on the bleacher decks stomping, their feet demanding more.

........At 9:30 p.m. Santana exploded on stage with a full-on guitar and percussion workout of "Goin' Home," then slammed into several of his new tunes from his CD "Supernatural." With Tony Lindsey on vocals, the band ran through "(Da le) Yaleo" and "Maria Maria," which elicited an boisterous response. But tellingly, it was Santana's classics tunes that whipped the crowd into a frenzy, starting with a glorious take on the exquisite "Samba Pa Ti." And although it seemed the fans were starting to leave in waves (the concert by then already was approaching the four-hour mark), Santana kept the fires burning hot on stage with the percussive "Jingo." But when he played the familiar opening chords of "Black Magic Woman," an audible aahhh! seemed to rise from the crowd. That seemed the highlight of the evening for Santana's set. Mana singer Fher would later appear on stage to sing "Corazon Espinado" from "Supernatural," but by then it was clear that only the diehard fans were still around. With the overall show running at almost five hours, Santana may want to consider shortening his set on the rest of the tour. ...........By Randy Cohen

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