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Sentient Tour Blog: Hal Miller Christchurch, NZ

             The Sentient Tour

        The bane of the existence of virtually every touring musician is the travel required to get to the venues for his or her music. At least at this point in technology, there’s no getting around the fact that if one wants to perform for an audience of 12,000 in, say, Hong Kong, one must go to Hong Kong. And herein- as they say- lies the rub.
      The Santana Sentient Tour of March/April 2013 covers the Pacific Rim, starting in Hawaii and ending some five weeks later in Tyagarah, NSW, Australia. In between the band makes visits to Singapore, Thailand, Taipei, Japan, and New Zealand where we are presently. Of all the Santana tours, this Pacific Rim excursion is undoubtedly the most arduous simply because of the enormity of the distances to the various venues. The novelty and excitement of visiting such far off lands makes this tour the most interesting in the minds of many in the Santana party and to a large extent this reduces the sting of the travel itself.
      Some trips stand out in my mind because they seemed to go on and on and on. At the conclusion of four days in Hawaii, the band’s next stop was Singapore. Getting there meant a 5:30 a.m. wakeup call in our Maui hotel for a one-hour flight to Honolulu followed by a ninety-minute layover before an eleven-hour flight to Seoul with an intervening 90 minutes in the airport. From Seoul we took a six-hour connecting flight to our destination, Singapore. All of us needed the day off that preceded the next concert.
      Another beaut was our most recent trek that started in Tokyo with a ten or eleven-hour flight to Auckland, New Zealand, with a one-hour layover followed by ninety-minute flight to our destination, Christchurch. And looming in the not-too-far distant future is the return home flight from Australia that will consume anywhere between twenty and twenty-five hours depending upon which U.S. coast you reside.
    All of which is to say that travel is an integral component of the entertainment business and with its worldwide reputation, Santana does a lot of it.
    The Santana musicians are all travel warriors who have logged hundreds of thousands of miles over the years. Most of them know where the good restaurants, clothing stores, Starbucks, and electronics stores are located in almost every city they visit. They know which cities have the best zoos, the best sporting venues, and the most interesting cultural sites.
On our current tour, for example, some of the band visited the Buddhist temple complex of the Grand Palace in Bangkok, while some visited the Botanical Gardens of Singapore. Tokyo, a favorite stop for most, was a magnet for those Santana people who are interested in gadgets and all kinds of electronica and for those who love Japanese cuisine.   
      And even here in far off Christchurch, New Zealand, Tony Lindsay and Bill Ortiz went for a walk and discovered a fabulous shoe store. The word spread and many others, including shoe connoisseur #1 Carlos, checked out this new find.
    Not to be overlooked and the raison d’etre for all the travel is, of course, the music. And while I am probably guilty of raising redundancy to an art form by now, once again I say that Santana never sounded better. Whether they’re playing the newest stuff, the middle-period stuff, or the aged-like-good wine stuff, the band has been delivering and the audiences have loved it. Even in Japan where audiences are taciturn and traditionally reserved, the crowds were on their feet and singing right along with the band.
    Santana 2013 is a veteran band comprised of excellent musicians who pride themselves on maintaining the high standard that Carlos Santana sets every night. While admittedly there are some nights that seemingly exceed every expectation and surprise the band itself, it’s no exaggeration to state that this band does not have off nights. They bring it every night and they derive the greatest satisfaction in knowing that you, the audience, go home satisfied and elated.

Hal Miller
Christchurch, N.Z.

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