Santana has sold over 100 million records.
It’s a can’t-miss proposition. Two legendary rock bands with a unique history that continue to draw sold-out crowds decades into their respective careers, playing a limited series of dates at three hand-selected venues.
Forty years into a 100-million selling career, legendary Grammy-winning and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group Santana will take a break from a multiyear residency at the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas to team up with another West Coast powerhouse for dates at Madison Square Garden (April 13), Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn, (April 15) and PPL Center in Allentown, Pa. (April 16).
With more than 80 million in sales and such still-popular hits as “Don’t Stop Believin’,” and “Open Arms,” Journey’s improbable path has taken it from humble beginnings in San Francisco in 1973 to continued success with new lead singer Arnel Pineda, who they famously found on YouTube in 2007.
“We primarily wanted to do MSG and thought that might be the most appropriate place to unveil the [new Santana] CD, in the media capital of the world,” said Santana’s manager, Michael Vrionis. “It was a coordinating nightmare to get all principals in one place, but it worked out great once we coordinated it and came up with the window we did.”
As for how the three-date tour (and at press time it appeared it would be limited to just those dates) landed at Mohegan Sun Arena, there is one simple reason: relationships. “Relationships always matter and both bands love playing here and we have great relationships with them,” said Thomas Cantone, SVPof Sports and Entertainment at the 10,000-capacity Mohegan Sun Arena.
“We are often asked by artists to make sure we are on their routing and, on some occasions, included in a limited run. A number of them refer to us as their second home.” Among the acts who’ve launched tours or made Mohegan one of their only stops lately are One Direction and the Beach Boys, as well as frequent guests Bon Jovi, who often kick off their tours at the arena.
“This is a great opportunity because this is rather unique in itself and more unique because you can only see it at Mohegan and two other venues,” Cantone said, citing close ties with both bands and their respective agents and managers as another reason his building landed the date.
Like Santana, Journey has performed a sold-out residency in Las Vegas (at the Hard Rock Hotel in 2015). The tour from the Bay Area rock brethren will coincide with the April 15 release of Santana IV, an album that reunites the early ‘70s lineup of Carlos Santana’s band, which included then teenage guitar-prodigy Neal Schon, who went on to become a founding member of Journey. The album marks the first time in 45 years that the core group from 1971’s multiplatinum classic Santana III has recorded together.
According to a release announcing the show, the double-threat tour originated several years ago when Schon suggested to Santana that they get back in the studio, which they did in 2014 and 2015, reigniting their original creative spark.
“It was magical,” Santana said. “We didn’t have to try to force the vibe — it was immense. From there, we then needed to come up with a balance of songs and jams that people would immediately identify as Santana.”
Vrionis said the two bands will rehearse in New York a day before the kickoff and plan to have a “long” sound check at MSG on the day of the first gig. Considering that they recorded the album all together in the same room at a Las Vegas studio, Vrionis said re-creating that chemistry on stage will be no problem. Plus, the two bands played a series of warm-up gigs in Mexico last year in the lead-up to their first-ever co-headlining U.S. dates.
“The other two rooms are also great venues we all know about and when we saw the availability at MSG it worked for Carlos and Neal with Journey so we wanted to do at least three shows,” said Vrionis, who declined to talk potential grosses, but predicted the shows would sell “very well.”
Tickets for the shows are $90 and $120 and went on sale on Jan. 29, with early access available to American Express Card members for the Mohegan Sun Arena show on Jan. 25. Both bands will also offer a variety of VIP packages, which range from $215 to $420 each.
“In terms of prices, it’s commensurate with what you would pay for a couple of headliners of this caliber,” Vrionis said. “A lot of people are packaging shows these days and in terms of the dollar amount for a couple of headline acts, if you really look at what you’d pay, this is 25 percent cheaper than going to Journey or Santana shows separately.”
Cantone said he was also not able to speculate on potential grosses for the Mohegan gig, or discuss guarantees, but said he, too, was certain it would sell out in days, if not minutes and that it will “absolutely” be a profit generator (and not just a genius PR move to promote both bands’ ongoing U.S. tours and the Santana record) because of the rare opportunity to see the two acts on stage together. Might there be some overlap and potential interplay between the bands? “I’m assuming it would be a great moment if Neal came out [to play with Santana], but let that be a surprise,” Cantone said.
Vrionis burst the surprise bubble a bit, though. “We definitely plan on some crossover,” he said. “They will play on some of the new songs together and Neal will come over and play with Carlos and Carlos will play with Journey.”
Interviewed for this story: Thomas Cantone, (860) 862-4412; Michael Vrionis, (626)-585-9575