On May 27, Carlos Santana begins an exclusive engagement at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. He’ll perform about 36 concerts a year at the 4000-seat Joint, backed by a full band, including trumpet, trombone, congas, and timbales.
The legendary guitar shaman isn’t the first music star to snag such a residency: Elton John, Cher, and Celine Dion have all played extended Sin City runs. But Santana is the first rocker to do so, and that gives me hope for the future of music in Vegas.
Bookers take note: Here are five bands I’d pay to see perform in the city of topless showgirls:
OF MONTREAL:With their mildly disquieting boho tendencies towards extravagant costumes, body paint, and, um, nudity, Kevin Barnes’ troupe of disco-psych jesters could be the indie equivalent of Cirque du Soleil — an arty respite from the city’s aggressively lowest common denominator vibe.
THE KILLERS:These hometown boys were tapped to open up the Hard Rock’s refurbished Joint on April 17. In addition to their local roots, the band’s glitzy sound and alternately desperate and hopeful lyrics (not to mention the dapper fur-trimmed outfits!) seem like a natural fit for this city of neon and vice.
GUNS N’ ROSES:I always felt that Axl’s heart was more in the Meatloafian piano dramatics of “Estranged,” “November Rain,” and Chinese Democracy’s “Street of Dreams” than in malicious stompers like “Welcome to the Jungle.” And those grandly melodic numbers would be perfect accompanied by a glittering legion of sequined showgirls and the clinking of rocks glasses.
PRINCE:Minneapolis’s finest already has some experience with extended engagements — in 2007 he played 21 nights at London’s O2 arena. He’s also known for his surprise post-concert gigs, where he’ll pop up at a small club and jam un2 the dawn. Plus, he’s insanely prolific. So why not give him a regular spot where he can have free reign to bust out hits or noodle away at smooth jazz until closing time? And anyone who’s been to a Prince concert knows the artist digs medleys, and doesn’t Vegas seem like a medley kind of town?
LILY ALLEN:With her insouciant wit and snarky persona, Allen seems poised halfway between musician and public personality. I’d love to see her given a regular room where she could crack some jokes, sing some songs, down some drinks, and update her MySpace page. It could be like a brassy, sassy update of those old booze-loosened Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin shows at the Sands.