Concert Review Archive

 

Kansas and Divided By Three

Sunday 12th June, 2005
Shepherd's Bush Empire, London, UK

By
Charlie Farrell
Live photo © Rene Keijzer

25 years is too long!

I have to admit that it has been a long time since I listened to the music of Kansas and even longer since I last saw them play live, so it was with a fair amount of nostalgia that I grabbed a ticket for this gig as soon as they went on sale in January of this year. The original rumour was that they were to have been touring with Styx, though this didn't materialize and both bands lined up gigs in almost the same week with similarly steep ticket prices. On this occasion Styx lost out.

Kansas 30th Anniversary tour flyer

Support was provided by the 3-piece blues outfit Divided By Three. They managed to sound surprisingly fresh and appeared to be very well received by the crowd as they warmed up for the main event.

There was no grand overture to greet Kansas, nor any fancy stage-set in sight, but as violinist Robbie Steinhardt made his way to the microphone centre-stage and counted the band into the opening number, one just sensed that this was going to be a very special show. There's no need for all the fancy trimmings, when you are a band who have been going for 30 years.

Belexes and Paradox made a fine start to the set and Robbie acknowledged the warmth of the audience reaction as he bellowed "Good Evening and Welcome to Kansas", to further huge cheers from the crowd in the comfortably full, but by no means sold-out venue. While Steve Walsh's vocals on Opus Insert showed that sadly his voice is not quite what it was, the playing and the backing vocals and harmonies were all absolutely top notch. In particular the guitar playing of Rich Williams and the violin playing of Robbie took the limelight, but mention should also be made of the rhythm section of Phil Ehart and Billy Greer who were no less impressive. "Who said that you can't rock at 55", declared Robbie after a particularly vigorous rendition of Miracles out of Nowhere.

photo © Rene KeijzerMore cheers greeted the opening chords and cries of "sail On" which introduced Icarus - Borne on the Wings of Steel and the classic tunes followed one after another. It was particularly pleasing to these ears to hear Magnum Opus (the first song to be written by all six of us, as Robbie informed us) and then Song For America, after which Robbie entertained us with some of his recollections of the last time that the band had played in London (in 1980, supporting Queen). The band had rehearsed at The Rainbow (now sadly closed) and it had rained ... so no change there then!

Robbie was very keen to emphasize that the band is still a vital entity, stressing that they still play 100 shows a year and encouraging the audience to check out the band's website. Then after the usual band introductions, thy chose to continue with a rendition of J.J. Cale's Bringing it back, which gave all the members of the band an opportunity to shine and proved that they can still rock when they want to. At this point, Robbie then declared that the band had "reached the point of Know Return" as they moved into one of their most well known songs. The rendition was sensational and in comparison to the rather disappointing Portrait (He Knew) would have made for a much better and more rousing end to the main set.

By this point, the band had only been on stage for a mere 75 minutes and, as almost everyone in the hall must have been aware, there was a still at least a couple of very famous songs that they hadn't yet performed. So it was no great surprise that they did return and deliver what a lot of people had been waiting for. Dust in the Wind and Carry On my Wayward Son might not be the band's most progressive of numbers, but they are songs to which everyone in the audience knew the words and as Steve Walsh leapt around the stage during Dust in the Wind, just about everyone in the building joined in to sing the chorus. Carry On was even more climactic as the audience sang along even more lustily than before.

All in all, a fine, if not particularly long show which proved to the English audience that the band can still deliver live. Hopefully they won't have to wait another 25 years to see the band again on an English stage.

Setlist
Belexes
Paradox
Opus Insert
Miracles out of Nowhere
Icarus - Borne on the Wings of Steel
Magnum Opus
Song For America
The Wall
Bringing It Back (Inc:Down The Road & Glimpse Of Home)
Point of Know Return
Portrait (He Knew)

Dust in The Wind
Carry on Wayward Son

 


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