As I sat in my seat at the Tarrytown Music Hall in New York I was struck by the beauty, elegance and history this venue has. As the hall filled in and the house lights went down I realized the adjectives I used to describe the hall can also describe Kansas... beautiful music, elegance on stage and a history that we were all going to enjoy and revisit together.
Billed as the RADIO CLASSICS AND FAN FAVORITES tour, Kansas were stepping away from the full album celebrations like last year's LEFTOVERTURE and upcoming POINT OF KNOW RETURN tours to make it simple... play the hits and only the hits... with some suprises!!!! In my interview with guitarist Zak Rizvi (available now on this site or ITunes), I told him how the last time I saw the band I didn't get to hear my 3 favorite Kansas songs; All I Wanted, Play The Game Tonight and Fire With Fire to which he replied... "come see us on the current tour because you will get all three."
Zak didn't lie!!!!
On stage Kansas play as one and are the tightest band I have ever seen live. Considering their songs like Carry On Wayward Son, Dust In The Wind and Hold On are so ingrained in our music brains, any change in style, tempo or presentation may have a negative effect, but they play it close to the originals. This is not saying they are cookie cutter in any way because that isn't the case at all. I see many bands go through the motions when they perform... and Kansas isn't one of them. In the three times I've seen them live, each show is better than the last one and that isn't an easy thing to do, because they have set their own bar so high. The lights, the music and the personalities in the band all add to the magic that is Kansas. Kansas treat the stage as sacred, the audience as family and the time together as very precious.
As I mentioned above the set list is a run through their history; all songs that are favorites of their fans from their debut album KANSAS (that featured drummer Phil Ehart and guitarist Rich Williams), 1986's POWER (bassist Billy Greer's first with the band) right up to 2016's THE PRELUDE IMPLICIT that introduced vocalist/keyboardist Ronnie Platt, keyboardist Dave Manion and guitarist Zak Rizvi to the legacy that is Kansas. Helping to bridge it all together was violinist/guitarist David Ragsdale who since 1991 has been providing the most recognizable and unique element to the bands music.
There is something about Kansas and their music that keeps people coming back. My three times seeing the band is laughable compared to other 'Wheatheads' who have seen the band over 100 times. In the audience were a lot of teens who were drawn to the band by their cool parents or the show SUPERNATURAL. What impressed me about these kids (and gave me hope for the future) is that not only were they singing along to Carry On, they were also singing word for word What's On My Mind and The Wall. That is good parenting, folks!
As the show began to wind down I found myself thinking how I couldn't wait to see them again in Worcester, MA in November. If you scroll down on this site you will find two other reviews of Kansas shows I wrote and you may find a similar tone... because I'm struggling to find another way to say that Kansas is the best band I have ever seen live, and this show was the best of all of them. Do yourself a favor, check the website for a show near you... and go!!!! You will thank me later, I promise.
The Power Chords Podcast is a twice-monthly podcast celebrating rock and metal music of the '70s, '80s, '90s and beyond. The show is co-hosted by Matt Herring and Brian LeTendre.