Following their first song, bassist Billy Greer says something to the audience that gives me chills everytime I hear it, "Ladies and gentlemen... welcome to Kansas!" It's that welcome that makes you feel like you are not just in the audience watching a band, it is a friend (or friends) inviting you into their heart and soul, their music.
Three years ago I saw Kansas for the first time, being invited by vocalist Ronnie Platt and the band's management. I always considered myself a fan of the band but tended to hover closer to the hits than the deep album cuts. When I saw Kansas it was the last of eight concerts in the span of two weeks and following the concert I looked at my wife and said they were the best band I saw in that span. She told me it was the best band she had ever seen. After seeing the band twice more since then.. I now agree with my wife. Kansas is the best band I have ever seen live.
So what is it? Let's start with their catalog! Since 1974 Kansas has recorded some of the greatest songs ever, like Carry On Wayward Son, Dust In The Wind, Point Of Know Return, Fight Fire With Fire, All I Wanted, The Wall, Play The Game Tonight, What's On My Mind... you get the point. And Kansas still make amazing music with their last album, THE PRELUDE IMPLICIT being one of their most complete albums, ever.
Next, let's look at the band! The current line-up features two originals; drummer Phil Ehart and guitarist Rich Williams who represent the past and give the band a solid foundation. On bass is Billy Greer who has been with the band since 1985's POWER and along with violinist/guitarist David Ragsdale, who has been with Kansas since 1991 are the bridge with vocalist Ronnie Platt, keyboardist David Manion and guitarist Zak Rizvi being the new blood, the future of Kansas. The trio joined in 2016 and have all have added their personality and love and reverence of the music to the band.
What about the band on stage!!!! There are fans of the band called 'Wheatheads' who have seen the band a lot, some over 100 times. That much devotion isn't just because they like the music, it's because Kansas deliver live on stage! When you see Kansas live you are seeing a band who is playing some very complex music that needs to be played exactly as the fans want to hear it; hooks, pauses and vocal cadiences. With all that, the band are not rigid and by the numbers, they have a spark of spontaneity that show how much they love what they do. Also, Kansas has been on the road almost non-stop since 2015, so you know they are tight and well rehearsed!
And finally... the fans! Kansas fans are some of the most loyal and passionate fans in all of music. This is something I see at every Kansas show, fans enjoying everything about the music, the hall, the band and each other. In the audience you have the longtime fans who have been there since the beginning and coming in are a younger batch, introduced to the band by the show, SUPERNATURAL. I noticed at the last show a young girl with a Supernatural shirt, obviously waiting for Carry On, but until that song, she sang almost every other one. That proves to me that great music is timeless.
Kansas are out performing their 1977 classic album POINT OF KNOW RETURN in its entirety and they may be coming to a venue near you!!!! For information, go to www.kansasband.com.
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.