Rock band Kansas can’t stop rocking after 40 years
Special to the Daily
“Time for a concert!” a man in the seventh row yelled as lights flooded the stage, illuminating Kansas drummer and original band member Phil Ehart.
The band’s packed March 29 show at the Vilar Performing Center started rather subdued. Lead vocalist Ronnie Platt thanked the crowd for sharing its “piece of paradise,” as bassist Billy Greer nodded enthusiastically. And then, six musicians sat under white spotlights, taking turns showcasing their musical prowess, leaving a few to wonder if the 40-year-old band had lost its rock-concert edge.
But, evidence for the audience to “Hold On” abounded not just when Kansas performed the mostly acoustic version of the hit song by the same name, but also within keyboardist Tom Brislin’s inconceivably wild and precise dexterity — as well as the fact that Platt’s body couldn’t help but move and groove in its seemingly ensnared seated position as he soulfully sang the first four or five tunes.
Then, in a flash of a second, the concert took off: a multicolored, shifting light show engulfed the single-focused, white spotlights; standing mics replaced chairs; and the band was off and running. Hits like “Point of No Return,” “Carry On Wayward Son” and “Dust in the Wind” punctuated its musical journey through four decades.
hit every melody, harmony and high note
As fans standing in the mosh pit sang along with popular choruses, Platt gregariously interacted with the audience, bending and reaching down to individuals, while Greer alternated between playing side by side (or back to back, for money shots) with violinist David Ragsdale and guitarist-bassist Zak Rizvi. Ragsdale, a long-time member who infused Kansas with its signature violin playing, still ripped in every instrumental and vocal tune the band performed, while guitarist and original member Richard Williams matched his band mates’ energy, at one time, playing acoustic guitar as his electric hung over his shoulder.
Kansas’ socially conscious lyrics melded with rich harmonies; each vocalist hit every melody, every harmony and every high note.
Platt chatted and played with the audience, initially promising a hour-and-a-half tour through the band’s 12 albums. Ultimately, Kansas played for nearly three hours.
“Who knew that you guys would be so awesome tonight?” Platt said. “Thank you very much. We played — not here in this venue — but we played here about 17 years ago. I don’t know if any of you guys remember that or were here at that time (some people shouted an emphatic ‘yes’), so doin’ the quick math, we’ll be back here in about 24 years; thank you for making Kansas a part of your life.”