Legendary progressive-rock band Kansas haven been riding a wave of resurgence for the last three years with the release of their first studio album in 17 years “The Prelude Implicit”, followed just a month ago by a live album entitled “Leftoverture Live & Beyond” and a tour supporting the 40th anniversary of their landmark album “Leftoverture”. Their nearly 3 hours set with no openers sees the band pulling all the stops: there are massive hits, new songs, deep-cuts and “Leftoverture” played in its entirety. Yes, Steve Walsh is no longer in the band. Neither is much of the original lineup with the exception of drummer Phil Ehart and guitarist Rich Williams. However, Kansas have found implausible substitutes in new singer Ronnie Platt and new guitarist Zak Rizvi and the results have been colossal. Platt’s vocals are natural and rise with the grandeur that lies in the music. Rizvi is a firm rhythm and lead player whose presence is further felt in both the two recent albums and in the live shows.
The show began with a five-song acoustic set. As the house lights drop vocalist/bassist Billy Greer, keyboardist David Manion, vocalist/keyboardist Ronnie Platt, violinist/guitarist David Ragsdale, guitarist Zak Rizvi and original guitarist Richard Williams casually walked on stage to a standing ovation from the audience. Opening with the happy “Reason to Be” from their classic 1979 album “Monolith”, the band then trotted out their last Top 20 single “All I Wanted” from the 1986 album “Power”. Lead vocalist Ronnie Platt gave a great performance on this tune, showing off his range while his bandmates displayed their musicianship with deep and moving harmonies accentuated by their acoustic instruments. “Hold On” from 1980’s Gold certified “Audio Visions” came next. A deep cut titled “Chasing Shadows” was included as well. The acoustic set ends with a new tune from the band’s latest studio effort “The Prelude Implicit”. Introduced as a song to address the reality of child trafficking and the thousands of children affected every year, “Refugee” closes out the acoustic set to rapturous applause.
Joining the guys behind the drums, original Kansas member, Phil Ehart came to stage as they started off their rock set performing a few classics with “Icarus II“, “Icarus – Borne on Wings of Steel” and the timeless “Point of No Return“.as well as a few fan favorites (“Paradox,” “Journey From Mariabronn”) and a lost classic (“Lamplight Symphony”). The band took this opportunity to introduce those who have not heard the new album to two of the best cuts “The Prelude Implicit” has to offer. A giant backdrop with the album cover appeared in the back and the first song played was the rocking “Rhythm in the Spirit”, followed the Livgren-esque “The Voyage of Eight Eighteen.” The band then performed an instrumental off the new album titled “Section 60.” This song is dedicated to those resting in The Arlington National Cemetery, and each performance of the emotional tune features a service member presenting the America flag. It was a solemn moment that reminded everyone in attendance that freedom is certainly not to be taken for granted.
The backdrop changed again as the opening notes of “Dust in the Wind” rolled over The Charles F. Dodge City Center. Everyone was up on their feet singing every word, and singer Ronnie Platt mentioned that “Dust in the Wind” has been played so many times since its release in 1977, if all of those were to be put into a continuous loop the song would play for more than five years. 2017 marks the 40th anniversary of Kansas’ most famous album, the timeless “Leftoverture”. Billy Greer jokingly mentioned, “40 years is a long time, and we are here because you come out to see us and support us. It’s really your fault we are still up here performing”, much to the amusement of the audience. With the speakers bellowing out the infamous lyrics of “Carry on My Wayward son” there was time for a journey back in time. During the next forty minutes the iconic album was hammered out flawlessly. The energy in the room was huge and the band nailed every single note. Classics like “The Wall” and “Miracles Out of Nowhere” came off sounding like the momentous classic rock songs they have always been. Phil Ehart’s double bass drums on the latter were impressive and truly jaw-dropping. They sounded newer and fresher with a newfound energy. Ronnie Platt has been with the band long enough that I will not even bother with Steve Walsh comparisons. His bandmates, led by Phil Ehart and Rich Williams are simply masters of their game, masterfully offering their signature virtuoso riffs and fun rocking enthusiasm, much to the delight of those lucky enough to have a ticket that tonight.
Ending a wonderful night of music, a powerful rendition of “Portrait (He Knew)” came as the only encore song, with the whole crowd clapping, singing and dancing. A truly fantastic show that would satisfy naysayers and rabid Kansas fans equally, do not miss the opportunity to see them if they come close to you. Kansas is back with a vengeance.
Reason to Be | All I Wanted | Hold On | Chasing Shadows | Refugee
Icarus II | Icarus – Borne on Wings of Steel | Point Of Know Return | Paradox | Journey From Mariabronn | Lamplight Symphony | Dust In The Wind |Rhythm in the Spirit | The Voyage of Eight Eighteen |Section 60
Carry On Wayward Son |The Wall | What’s on My Mind | Miracles Out of Nowhere | Opus Insert | Questions of My Childhood |Cheyenne Anthem | Magnum Opus
Portrait (He Knew)