“And now, Carlos Santana coming to you live from Galgotia University grounds” (Seriously?!)… is not a sentence I ever expected to hear. But I did. And it was music to my ears.
After the Metallica disaster I’d given up hope of any big act making it to Delhi/NCR. But Korn and Enrique (neither of whom I was interested in) played to packed audiences, and went off super-smoothly. I did want to go for Megadeth and headbang (so what if my knees wouldn’t last beyond the first 3 minutes of shaking like a maniac?) to A tout le monde but that was the weekend Tambi was in town with Baby Button (yes!!). By town I mean at my parents’ place so we all trooped back there. I kept telling him it was a testimony of my love for him that I picked him over the chance to see Megadeth live. The OA on the other hand was all – “Eh? Megadeth? Who?” I think I should have had these on a checklist before I married him. He also caught Iron Maiden in the US and even Alice in Chains. And he doesn’t even like their music. :( I missed that night because I had made plans to meet a friend who I never thought I’d get to meet in this lifetime. But seriously, where is the justice I ask you. And how did I marry a man who isn’t a fan of any of these bands? Oh well.
And when I heard that Santana would be playing after the F1 in Noida I jumped at the chance. I don’t know how other cities do it but the idiots here (DNA again, of course!) had not arranged for parking. The F1 parking and signage was brilliant and we followed the arrows naturally assuming that we’d park in the same place, only to be told that the parking lot would shut at 7pm once the F1 audience had departed. We asked the traffic cops milling around on duty, where we should park – We don’t know, they shrugged, just don’t park here, because we’ll tow you away. Gee, thanks, that is helpful. Finally we just parked down the road in broad view of two tow trucks. Entry was to have opened at 3pm but it only opened at 5pm. After two hours of mucking around in the dust I was this close to collapsing. Why is it harder to stand than it is to walk?
We finally got in and my bladder was about to burst (does this fall into the realm of TMI?) and the port-a-loos that had barely opened up to junta were filthy and already wet and out of water too! WTF?!
After all that misery (can you tell how old I am?) I collapsed in the grass and then Soulmate began to play. The OA and I always try to catch them when they’re in town. Something about them makes my toes curl. I love Tips’ vocals and attitude and Rudy has a voice that sounds like smoke over whiskey. Yes, okay, it is clear we love them.
They were the perfect band to open for Santana because they set the mood and it was almost a spiritual experience to just lie in the grass, dusk falling, staring at the sunset- tamed and hazy through the settling smog and then watch a sliver of silvery moon peek out. To be invited to open for an act like Santana is huge and I think they picked the right band for it.
That said, I feel bad for opening acts. The audience has paid a solid price for the main act and many of them may not have even heard of you. And so it was for Soulmate, with most people getting impatient, the anticipation for Santana getting unbearable. Frankly I’d have driven from Gurgaon to Greater Noida just to hear Soulmate anyway.
And then a ripple ran through the crowd. We weren’t quite sure what it was about, but we sat up anyway. And there, standing behind Tips, his trademark hat on, was Santana, playing for her!!! I can’t tell you how excited I was. My first big gig, the great man Santana himself, and such humility, yet such confidence. He came in with a blast of smoke and when it cleared, not too many people lying back in the grass and semi-dark noticed the extra person. Until someone saw the brightly-patterned jacket and hat and froze.
It was overwhelming, and I felt like a college kid, tears of excitement springing to my eyes. He didn’t try to steal her thunder, playing a tiny bit and floating off the stage after his little joke. Soulmate finished the act as the audience courteously stayed mum but impatiently shuffled around, waiting for them to wrap up.
And when Santana finally came on, the crowd went wild. You will understand this was not easy because half the crowd was over 50! It was cute to see all these older people, some bald, some fully white, wrinkled, all eyes ablaze. Nothing like my shabby jeans and nondescript shawl. These were all in expensive jeans with nary a frayed hem, discreet logos on their neatly ironed pockets and suede driving shoes. Oh yeah, this was another generation coming back to see their idol and this was definitely a far cry from their Peace Brother times.
I called my dad when they played Black Magic Woman. It was the closest he’d ever come to hearing his idol playing live. He’d badly wanted to come but things hadn’t worked out and I was feeling miserable and guilty. Apparently guilt trips come easy to me and I’m thinking of becoming a travel agent for them. It was lovely. Dad singing in my ear on the phone and Santana live in front of me. And then he said, “People below 50 shouldn’t have been allowed in. You don’t know Santana like we did.” True, Dada.
At some point my knees gave out entirely and I sat down in the midst of a thousand stamping, dancing feet. I’d probably be trampled to death, but I didn’t care and couldn’t have done much if I had cared. I was in awe of their energy. Performing, dancing and singing for 2 hours at that age can’t be easy. His wife Cindy drummed for a couple of numbers and was mindblowing. Reminds you that often one half of a famous couple gets overshadowed. My other thought was – damn, but she must have fine biceps!
He spoke a little through the show, talked about peace and the inner light. I don’t know about others, but if my life had Santana playing the background score I’d be at peace and nursing my inner light! I tried hard to live in the moment, closing my eyes, letting the music take over and feeling the energy of the crowd.
Soon the evening was over. Much anticipated and over too soon. But a dream come true and one I would close my eyes and relive for years to come.
And because some of you may have missed Santana, I’m going to share with you, the house pictures of a friend of mine. I love her place. It’s not one of those new modern minimalist characterless places and I love it. I’m always finding something new in a new corner and it always has a fun story. If homes reflect character then hers says warm, inviting, nuanced, interesting, fun, quirky, doesn’t take herself seriously, has taste, eclectic and above all, absolutely original. I’m tired of people seeing someone’s home and lifting an entire idea or wall design. It’s heart breaking for those who spent time coming up with the idea. Enough talk now – go enjoy.