After waiting for almost two months, the dream date-night with Santana, a Mexican-American guitarist famous for his Latin-infused music, finally arrived! March 1st was like concert night for Joburg….with Eminem performing at the Ellis Park Stadium and Santana at the FNB stadium. A hard choice to make perhaps for a lot of people, but not for us – it was always Santana, through and through.
Even the rain, which had not relented since the night before, did not dampen our spirits. We weren’t going to miss this gig for anything. After some last minute scrambling for ‘parking tickets’, we were finally ready. Armed with rain coats, jackets and boots (so much for summer), we set off two hours in advance, expecting queues and delays. But we were so pleasantly surprised. Despite having to manage two concerts at two different venues in the same city, both drawing large crowds, the police and the organisers had done a fantastic job. There were no major hassles when we approached the stadium and we were able to get to our parking in less than 15minutes.
The reason I sound so surprised and so much in awe is because in India going to ANY concert is nothing less than a nightmare. Parking is a mess and getting in and out of one can easily take upto an hour. This is despite most people opting for public transport. Getting into the concert arena comes with its own perils. There will be several security check points, a long list of things not allowed inside which may or maynot have been clearly stated anywhere creating utter confusion, huge crowds of people trying to jump queues or get past by name dropping (mentioning their connection to who’s who), and too much undue importance given to V.V.I.P.S which more often than not creates unnecessary trouble for the common people. These are just a few of the many problems that make concert going in India pretty unpleasant. So I was absolutely thrilled with the experience in SA.
Getting into the FNB stadium and finding our designated seats was a breeze. We even had enough time to grab some beers and food before settling down into our seats. The concert started with the performance of SA’s renowned Johnny Clegg. Although we didn’t know his music and did not understand much when he sang songs in Zulu and Afrikaans, the crowds were truly moved and went absolutely berserk when he sang ‘Asimbonanga’ as a tribute to Nelson Mandela.
It was soon time for the main performance and I am sure the cheering and the shouting could be heard from miles away when Santana came onto the stage. The legendary musician kicked off the evening’s performance with ‘The Black Magic Woman’ and as he doled out one hit after another including Maria Maria, it became difficult for people to stay in their seats. So after a while, even we quit trying and danced in the aisle! Time just flew by and although the musician and his band may have been tired, the crowds were not. Despite cries for more, the concert ended with Santana wishing us peace and happiness.