Santana's residency at Vegas Hard Rock will be anything but routine

Carlos Santana says his band will take 20-30 minutes in the middle of its set to do a “backflip into the unknown.”

Times files

Carlos Santana says his band will take 20-30 minutes in the middle of its set to do a “backflip into the unknown.”

What's the one thing Las Vegas needs more of? Light, according to Carlos Santana, who figures he's just the guy to bring it during a Sin City residency he'll begin May 27 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

Santana, the man and the band, will play about three shows a week through 2010 at the Hard Rock's expanded and refurbished concert theater, the Joint, which another classic rocker, Paul McCartney, will inaugurate April 19.

"Santana is going to bring a lot of joy, light, peace and happiness into a place that is basically based on illusion," the multiple Grammy-winning guitarist, songwriter and bandleader said last week from his management's offices in San Francisco. "We have to triumph, because we're bringing the opposite of what Las Vegas is built on."

The residency is the result of a deal with entertainment giant AEG Live, which also produced Celine Dion's "A New Day" show — a production that ran five years at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace — as well as subsequent residencies with Elton John, Cher and Bette Midler.

Santana, who has never been hesitant about expressing his spiritual beliefs, said he intends to keep his performances inspired by avoiding an overly scripted and choreographed production.

"I put in the contract that we will need 20 to 30 minutes in the middle of the set to do a backflip into the unknown," he said. "I won't know what that's going to be; the sound and lighting people won't know, the band won't know. We need that just so we can reignite and reinvent ourselves."

The Joint, which opened in 1995 and helped make Las Vegas a legitimate destination for rock musicians, is undergoing a $60 million expansion. The former 1,400-seat theater now will house up to 4,000 people. Tickets are priced from $79 to $299.

"There are a lot of options of what we can do," Santana, 61, said. "The only thing we don't want it to be is routine."

Santana's residency at Vegas Hard Rock will be anything but routine 04/04/09 [Last modified: Saturday, April 4, 2009 9:42pm]

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