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September 1, 2014

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Music:

Want to join Santana in ‘residence’ at The Joint? You better have an album in the all-time top 100

Image

Leila Navidi

Santana and his band eschew costumes for their show at The Joint at the Hard Rock, and the only dancers are in the seats. The show includes some ramblings by Santana as well music from 40 years.

Supernatural Santana

Carlos Santana performs live during the first night of new show Launch slideshow »

Beyond the Sun

Carlos Santana is not the only superstar who will have a steady headlining gig at The Joint at the Hard Rock.

AEG Live, the mega-entertainment company that put together the rotating star system at the Colosseum, is actively looking for one or two more headliners to join Santana in the same vein as Cher, Bette Midler and Elton John at Caesars Palace.

“Absolutely,” said John Meglen, president of Concerts West, an AEG Live company that books shows at several venues in Las Vegas. “There’s no question about it, but I can’t give you any names right now.”

He does have a list.

“If you picked up Rolling Stone magazine and looked at the top 100 albums of all time, that’s my list,” he said.

Santana has signed on for two years, performing for three weeks, taking two months off and then returning for three weeks.

For those two years, these will be Santana’s only live performances west of the Mississippi River.

Meglen is looking for someone who can sell 4,000 seats in the new $60 million venue, which opened this year with a series of concerts by the Killers, Paul McCartney, Bon Jovi and Kenny Chesney.

“It could be a David Bowie or an Eric Clapton or it could be Linkin Park or the Foo Fighters,” Meglen said. “It’s pretty wide open. There are a lot of great names and great shows.”

The target audience is 50.6 years old, the average age of the Las Vegas visitor last year.

“That’s right there in that Boomer generation,” Meglen said. “The Boomers, even in this contracted economy, there are still more of them, and a lot of them are a lot better off than maybe some other people are.

“I know the Boomers were such great supporters of live entertainment and the concert business. When you go to this room you go, ‘Wow, this is really a good room for them.’ ”

But he doesn’t just want to hit the middle. His goal is to span the generations, the way Santana does.

“He touches all generations,” Meglen said. “I gotta tell you. He and I went to a basketball game a couple of weeks ago at Staples Center, and at intermission I took Carlos to the chairman’s room. In there were John Mayer, Justin Timberlake, Leonardo DiCaprio and Penny Marshall — and they were all over Santana. It was really interesting. All those people are great artists, but they had such tremendous respect for the guy.

“Carlos oozes class and oozes integrity. We really want to have that. It’s almost taken a bit of the glitter and glam out of it, to go more to something about the credibility. It’s more about the music. There’s more emphasis on the music and less on the productions, though we’re still having the artists put together unique shows, retrospectives of their careers, which is a nice way of saying playing the hits.”

Meglen says Santana was an important choice for the first resident headliner at the new venue.

“With Santana it’s about credibility,” he said. “It’s important for us to show we are moving forward on establishing the new Joint as a rock ’n’ roll hall.”

Even with Santana, tickets aren’t being snatched up at breakneck speed. To spur fans, $25 is being knocked off reserved floor seating for performances May 27 to June 14 and Aug. 26 to Sept. 9.

“Sure, we’re suffering a little bit, especially in today’s economic climate — absolutely, across the board with all our shows,” he said. “But the weekdays are a lot tougher than the weekends. Weekends are good but weekdays, we have to work that harder. I keep telling everybody, when you’ve got 30 percent of the conventions that actually went away and of the ones remaining attendance is down 25 percent or whatever the numbers are, that means we’re going to have a little bit tougher time on weekdays.

“But we’re long-term thinkers. We believe in Vegas. We think that over time this will get better, so there is no reason to stop what we’re doing. The important point is we really believe in this, in this model, the resident model.”

Convincing Santana to become a resident headliner took some persuading.

“Honestly, it was a bit difficult,” Meglen said. “It’s hard to explain the concert to people, but I’ve got to give Carlos a lot of credit for seeing our vision and accepting the vision. He not only understands our vision but I think he shares the vision. He’s excited about creating a show he’s never done before.”

Paul Davis, vice president of entertainment for the Hard Rock, said it took a couple of years to decide on Santana.

“We’re very selective,” he said. “We poked around and talked to a lot agents and managers, but none of the artists gained any traction. This one we liked for a lot of reasons. Carlos is a legend, a rock ’n’ roll icon, a multigenerational artist who was huge at the origin of his career, and then there was a resurgence 10 years ago with the album ‘Supernatural.’

“From a musical legitimacy standpoint, it doesn’t get any stronger than Carlos Santana.”

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