Words and Photos: DJ
What an illustrious career the trailblazing masters of progressive rock, Kansas, have enjoyed. Their music has remained a timeless classic over the years, with a peak of popularity during the 1970s and 1980s. Originating in Topeka, Kansas, in 1970, the band is renowned for their unique fusion of progressive rock, art rock, and hard rock, enriched with elements of American folk and country music. Their distinctive sound often featured intricate arrangements and elaborate instrumentation, notably incorporating the prominent use of the violin, setting them apart from their peers.
The notable members of Kansas hey day included Steve Walsh (keyboards, vocals), Kerry Livgren (guitar, keyboards), the late Robby Steinhardt (violin, vocals), Rich Williams (guitar), Phil Ehart (drums), and Dave Hope (bass). The band’s most iconic tracks, “Carry On Wayward Son” and “Dust in the Wind,” have solidified their position as enduring classic rock anthems, maintaining their prominence even to this day on mainstream classic rock radio.
Kansas released several successful albums, particularly “Leftoverture” (1976) and “Point of Know Return” (1977), which garnered both critical acclaim and commercial success, propelling the band into the spotlight. These albums showcased the band’s unique amalgamation of progressive rock intricacies with catchy, radio-friendly melodies.
The current lineup includes original drummer Phil Ehart, bassist and vocalist Billy Greer, lead vocalist and keyboardist Ronnie Platt, keyboardist and vocalist Tom Brislin, violinist and guitarist Joe Deninzon, and original guitarist Richard Williams. Additionally, Eric Holmquist fills in on drums for the first part of each concert while Phil Ehart continues to recover from an arm injury.
It is always a delight to experience a classic performance such as this one. I felt privileged and honored to be in attendance. Right from the start, the band sounded phenomenal live, showcasing their enduring prowess even after many years. With the opening performances of “Belexes” and “Point of Know Return,” the audience was quickly reintroduced to that distinctive Kansas sound. From the consistently excellent guitar work of Rich Williams to the soulful melodies and captivating choruses of Greer and lead vocalist Ronnie Platt, the performance was top-notch.
Another timeless piece, “Play The Game Tonight,” with its lively AOR essence, exuded infectious melodies and a groovy rhythm. It was a genuine pleasure to witness “Fight Fire with Fire,” a song that hadn’t been part of their regular setlist for quite some time, delivering an electrifying live rendition. The drumming was particularly impressive, getting the seated crowd at the Concert Hall moving to the beat. The string of hits continued with “People Of the South Wind,” evoking imagery akin to the Doobie Brothers, with its infectious rhythm on the drums and a highly catchy tune. The classic “Dust in the Wind” was an essential part of the set, still sounding as enchanting as ever after all these years. Concluding the nearly two-hour performance, the encore included the iconic “Carry On Wayward Son,” which sounded as captivating as it ever has. A special acknowledgment goes to violinist and guitarist Joe Deninzon, who delivered an exceptional performance all night, executing all the key elements of the classics with precision and finesse.
I found myself completely captivated by their performance, as each song carried a majestic melody and an irresistibly alluring groove, leaving a lasting impression of awe.
Undoubtedly, Kansas has etched an indelible mark in the realm of rock music, influencing countless artists and bands across various genres. Their intricate compositions, masterful musicianship, and distinctive sound continue to be celebrated by both fans and critics alike. Catch them one last time on this enchanting tour.
KANSAS 50th Anniversary Tour – Another Fork in the Road Tour
October 26, 2023 Huntsville, AL Von Braun Center – Mark C. Smith Concert Hall
October 27, 2023 Memphis, TN Orpheum Theatre
November 3, 2023 Charlotte, NC Ovens Auditorium
November 4, 2023 Durham, NC Durham Performing Arts Center
November 16, 2023 Dallas, TX Winspear Opera House
November 17, 2023 Tulsa, OK Tulsa Theater
December 1, 2023 Savannah, GA Johnny Mercer Theatre
December 2, 2023 Atlanta, GA Fox Theatre
January 12, 2024 Jacksonville, FL Florida Theatre
January 13, 2024 North Charleston, SC North Charleston Performing Arts Center
January 19, 2024 Fort Myers, FL Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall
January 20, 2024 Clearwater, FL Ruth Eckerd Hall
January 27, 2024 Melbourne, FL Maxwell C. King Center for the Performing Arts
January 28, 2024 Fort Lauderdale, FL Broward Center for the Performing Arts
February 2, 2024 Pensacola, FL Saenger Theatre
February 3, 2024 Birmingham, AL BJCC Concert Hall
March 1, 2024 Richmond, VA Dominion Energy Center
March 2, 2024 Tysons, VA Capital One Hall
March 8, 2024 Springfield, MO Gillioz Theatre
March 9, 2024 St. Joseph, MO Missouri Theater
March 22, 2024 Salina, KS The Stiefel Theatre
March 23, 2024 Salina, KS The Stiefel Theatre
April 5, 2024 Toledo, OH Stranahan Theater
April 6, 2024 Elkhart, IN Lerner Theatre
April 12, 2024 Champaign, IL Virginia Theatre
April 13, 2024 Waukegan, IN Genesee Theatre
April 19, 2024 Marietta, OH Peoples Bank Theatre
April 20, 2024 Newark, OH Midland Theatre
April 26, 2024 Morristown, NJ Mayo Performing Arts Center
April 27, 2024 Lancaster, PA American Music Theatre
May 2, 2024 Rochester, NY Kodak Center*
May 4, 2024 Toronto, ON Massey Hall*
May 10, 2024 Concord, NH Capitol Center for the Arts
May 11, 2024 Albany, NY Palace Theatre
May 17, 2024 Providence, RI Providence Performing Arts C