KANSAS continues with the classics at Parx: music review


BENSALEM TOWNSHIP, PA —No one can ever touch the classic Kansas lineup. But this last range is pretty close.

Celebrating 50 years as a band, Kansas entered Parx Casino last Saturday night with original member, guitarist Richard Williams, in tow. (Original drummer Phil Ehart missed the show due to a hand injury and was replaced by drum tech Eric Holmquist.) It didn’t matter, because this performance of intricate chord progressions captured every note. , then some.

Kansas continues with such sonic musicality and musical interaction between Williams, bassist Billy Greer, violinist/guitarist David Ragsdale and keyboardist Tom Breslin. And then there’s vocalist Ronnie Platt who provides soaring vocals to match his enthusiasm for the stage.

This group has two of the greatest songs of all time in its catalog. The one you hear in grocery stores, maybe at the dentist or at a wedding. The other is still ranked in the Top 10 of the greatest rock classics.

Another opens their set. It’s “Point of Know Return,” the classic title track from the classic album the band had performed in its entirety in recent years.

What followed was a bombardment of tracks from classic albums and hits which the band played to perfection with Williams, Breslin and Ragsdale trading riffs and playing against each other as Platt captured the singer’s spirit. Steve Walsh, still considered underrated by many but truly one of the greatest classic rock singers of all time.

The group tried to represent all eras, offering “What’s on my Mind”, two of “Masque” in “Two Cents Worth” and “Icarus”, the essential “The Wall”, and the first song of the first album in 1973, “Can I Tell You.” This group has re-recorded a version that will appear on an upcoming Classic Hits package.

The band showed their versatility by switching to a four-song acoustic set with excellent versions of “People of the South Wind” and “Hold On”, two hits for Kansas in 1979/1980.

You can close your eyes and listen to “Dust in the Wind” as it should be played in a church. It is magical and spiritual. It always has been.

Greer explained how songwriter/guitarist Kerry Livgren wrote it from a finger picking exercise while Platt delivers a Walsh-like voice and Ragsdale plays the incredible violin solo made famous by the late Robbie Steinhardt.

What really makes this new version of Kansas special is that it can produce new music that fits in with the classic style of the band’s history. The band played the ballad “Memories Down the Line” and the progressive rock “Throwing Mountains” which shows that this band can definitely carry on in the future. Credit goes to Breslin, who provided fresh energy and such keyboard flourishes that are even better than what Walsh ever offered.

The last four numbers mix singer John Elefante’s short and successful run with “Play the Game Tonight” and “Fight Fire With Fire”, an excellent MTV video at the time. They are balanced by “Sparks of the Tempest” and the closer “Miracles Out of Nowhere” in which Greer and Platt trade vocals, just as Walsh and Steinhardt did.

And then Kansas comes out with a lasting memory as the crowd infiltrates the Bensalem Township casino. Nothing is more perfect than “Carry on my wayward son”.

It delivers everything that makes this song a classic, just like this band.

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