LIVE: Kansas @ The Egg, 4/27/18
Review by Mark Alexander Hudson
Tricky thing going to see heritage / classic rock acts these days. With the ravages of time, personal and professional differences and disputes, it is the rare band that still contains a majority of the original members that played in their heyday.
It can bring to mind the old joke, “Went to see The Temptations, and five white guys came out on stage.”
Well, the version of Kansas that rolled into The Egg’s Hart Theatre recently for an early stop on their Radio Classics & Fan Favorites Tour boasts just two members of the outfit who hit the heights in the mid to late ’70s – drummer Phil Ehart and guitarist Rich Williams. They’re joined by long serving (since the ’80s on and off) bandmates Billy Greer (bass, vocals) and David Ragsdale (violin, guitar, vocals), as well as a trio of relative newcomers, Ronnie Platt (vocals), Zak Rizvi (guitar) and David Manion (keyboards).
It’s Platt who has the most difficult job. One of Kansas’ signature sounds, along with their rare use of violin as a lead instrument, was the soaring voice of Steve Walsh, one of the finest singers of the classic rock era. Walsh was able to brilliantly handle lung-busting hard rock as well as the more sensitive songs in their repertoire, like the lighters-aloft anthem “Dust in the Wind.” Platt acquitted himself admirably, the one-time member of Shooting Star displaying a similar strength and range, without slavishly imitating the original.
In fact, this version of Kansas soon put any thoughts to rest of them being more a tribute band than the real thing with a confident performance before an enthusiastic crowd.
The name of the tour describes the set, highlighting just why this band is somewhat unique – neither an out-and-out classic rock radio band nor an American progressive unit, but rather somewhere in between. Their proggier side – episodic suites like “Icarus, Borne on Wings of Steel” and “Miracles Out of Nowhere” that would not be out of place on a Yes album – sit alongside straight-ahead melodic sing-along rockers like “Play the Game Tonight” and “Fight Fire with Fire.” The only misstep in the evening’s song selection was the bland ’80s hit “Stand Beside Me,” which sounded like a Foreigner song if Foreigner had suddenly forgotten how to write cast iron hooks.
The band’s two big hits were played, of course, both “Dust” and a rousing version of “Carry on Wayward Son,” which closed out the show and sent the fans home happy.
Yeah, no Dorothy Gale feelings for anyone – this was definitely still Kansas.
KANSAS SET LIST
On the Other Side
Point of Know Return
Can I Tell You
What’s on My Mind
All I Wanted
Dust in the Wind
Stand Beside Me
Icarus, Borne on Wings of Steel
Play the Game Tonight
Rhythm in the Spirit
Fight Fire with Fire
Miracles Out of Nowhere
Magnum Opus (excerpt)
Carry on Wayward Son