“We all know very well where we are,” said guitarist Lulu Santos as he paused his very electric set before 1.5 million fans that crowded Manhattan's Avenue of The Americas for the annual celebration of Brazil's independence. “But the fact remains that we are here to celebrate who we are – we are Brazilians.”
Santos was indeed indebted to his New York fans. Late in 2004 in Newark, a large group of people were shown the door as technical problems canceled a performance at the eleventh hour. The guitarist, however, did not disappoint. Opening with a rap-influenced tune filled with electronic beats, Santos quickly got the audience on their feet. Strapping on his vintage Fender guitar, he continued with “Toda Forma de Amor,” an uptempo song about happily settling into married life.
His longtime band, which is rounded out by Milton Guedes (sax and harmonica) Dunga (bass) Xokolate (drums) and Hiroshi Mizutani (keyboards and programming) had great chemistry together, and Santos gave them the opportunity to show their individuality as he stepped offstage and let them take over with a jazzy samba.
He returned to the stage and kept things going with “Assim Caminha a Humanidade,” a disco-inspired tune that became one of Santos' biggest hits in the late 90’s. He then picked up a 12-string acoustic and led a sing-along medley that included  “Como Uma Onda (Zen Surfismo),” a Hawaiian-inspired ballad that has been covered by the likes of Caetano Veloso, Brazilian funk pioneer Tim Maia and various others.
The set closed with “Casa” and “Descobridor dos Sete Mares,” which borrowed its rhythm track from “Disco Inferno.” Santos is in great shape, barely showing his 55 years – except maybe for his mop of white hair that he carries with pride.
After a 25-minute break, Bahia's ten-piece Banda Eva began the evening's closing set with a selection of songs that transported everyone to the streets of Salvador during the four-day festivities of Carnaval. Led by vocalist  Saulo Fernandes (the third to take the post since Ivete Sangalo left the group in 1999), they played a non-stop set filled with many of the b