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Old Dec-06-2004, 3:51 AM
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Icon33 Kansas in Concert Sun night.....Incredible!!!!!!

Well it figures I can't get into the Kansas forums right after the show so I will write here first. Went to an amazing show by classic rock band Kansas at the great new small venue Vault 350 in downtown Long Beach. Walked in with my email printout, no Ticketmaster hassles or fees, just bought the tix online only a few hours before the show from the venue's website. The band were incredibly tight at the end of a tour....and the biggest surprise of all was hearing how sharp and clean Steve Walsh's voice was. The last Kansas show I saw was in 1987 and back then Walsh clearly suffered voice fatigue by about the middle of the show. This time he had no trouble hitting any high notes. I was consistently blown away by his voice. Some of the harder songs like Wayward Son and Point of No Return were at the end but Walsh was excellent on those songs. The rest of the band were their usual polished virtuouso selves, including longtime violinist Robby Steinhardt. Steinhardt is an underrated singer also, great melodic voice, his lead and backing vocals are almost a mirror image of Steve's tone. At one point in the show I found myself two feet away from Steinhardt when he appeared in the audience to play a solo! What's so great about Kansas is they still have almost all the original members except for the retired Kerry Livgren (who still writes for the band such as the 2000 album Somewhere to Elsewhere) and occasionaly sits in during their midwest shows) and even bassist Billy Greer has been in the band 18 years now. Just before Hold On Robby Steinhardt remarked that "often people approach our sound man and ask 'what voice tapes are we using'. That pisses me off!" Steinhardt then explained that no tapes are used and what you see is what you get! Right on Robby! Without a doubt the revelation of the show was the power and glory of Steve Walsh's voice. It was as good as it has ever been and no vocal cheating, changing the notes, or having band members cover chouruses, etc. The songs also all appeared to be in their original keys, and no tuning down! This show for me wiped away the memory of embarrassing shows like the Whiskey in 1992, (released on video), where even Dust in the Wind was a straining mess. Walsh has recovered from the cocaine addiction that plagued him into the 1990's and it shows in his voice. The Hammond organ was gone so no handstands, replaced by an excellent sounding Emu B-3 organ module and Steve's Kurzweil PC88 and other Kurzweil keyboard. Steve really is a fantastic keyboardist who doesn't get enough credit when great rock keyboardists are mentioned. Have to mention the contributions of the great guitar work of Rich Williams, a fine melodic player and the always solid and entertaining rythym section of Phil Ehart and Billy Greer. What a treat it was to see this show in the front row....I was truely blown away by this band. I'm still getting around to getting all the albums now that they've been remastered, so much of the set I was unfamilar with. The usual complaints about bands like Kansas is many fine albums are ignored, so nothing from Freaks of Nature, Power, Spirit of Things. But the great Icarus 2 sounded incredible, would have liked to have heard Myriad also. The bottom line is that Kansas is a band that can blow any other touring classic rock band off the stage right now, with the exception of Boston and not be accused of being a tribute band. The sound and mix was really good, even though I was right in front of the stage, not the best place to get a good mix, I could still hear everything pretty well. I could tell that if I was farther back it must have been even more amazing. Impressive job guys I loved every minute of it. More photos to come here's just a sample of what I was able to get.

John Harjo



Setlist:

1. Reflexes
2. Paradox
3. Opus
4. Miracles
5. Icarus II
6. Icarus
7. Magnum Opus
8. Song 4 America
9 Hold On.
10. Bringing it Back
11. Point of No Return
12. Portrait
13. Dust in the Wind
14 Wayward Son

John









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  #2  
Old Dec-07-2004, 4:37 AM
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Icon37 Kansas...VAU!

Thanks JohnH - always a pleasure to read your reviews! Can't wait to see Kansas in Sweden Rock next summer!

Cheers,

T
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Old Dec-07-2004, 8:23 AM
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WonderTwin WonderTwin is offline
 
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Wow, that hardly looks like Steve Walsh!

WT
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Old Dec-07-2004, 3:07 PM
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chrisloeb chrisloeb is offline
 
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Thumbs up

Excellent review, John and thanks for mentioning what kind of Hammond sound Steve Walsh uses nowadays - I couldn't figure it out on the Live DVD! Is that the EMU Vintage Pro module you were mentioning?

ad Kansas, generally - I think I have all their recorded output in my collection, those remastered and the stuff from the 80s up to today on CD, and the rest like Monolith, Audio Visions, etc. on vinyl, even the John Elefante stuff that I don't listen to, but I really can't tell which my favourite is. I love all of their live stuff, even Whiskey, and the DVD of their latest Greatest Hits Box Set (Sail on) is great. The King Biscuit CD feat. Steve Morse is also worth checking out, especially since Morse is playing a lot of the violin stuff on the guitar

You are absolutely right, it was a tragedy when SW's cocaine habit became an apparent problem, and when I listened to the Whiskey CD I was shocked what that had done to his voice (don't ask about the reaction when I saw the video...) - it's good to see that he's back on top again- his voice is really unique (and I totally agree that he's a fantastic keyboard player!)

So hopefully they play live anywhere near me sometime - I'd love to see them in concert!

Cheers,
Christian
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Old Dec-07-2004, 3:09 PM
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chrisloeb chrisloeb is offline
 
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Thumbs up and btw. GREAT pics!!!

John, and btw. - GREAT pics !!!!


Cheers,
Christian
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Old Dec-07-2004, 3:55 PM
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tony g tony g is offline
 
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yes i agree this is truly a great band i recommend to everyone the new collection SAIL ON the dvd starts with don kirshners rock concert i remember watching this when i was 10 years old and being amazed and have been a fan eversince
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Old Dec-07-2004, 3:58 PM
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this is a great memory just like i remember watching glenn on tv playing with deep purple at california jam
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Old Dec-10-2004, 3:53 PM
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In my haste to write a glowing review....I left out one nitpick. That is that I noticed that Steve has zero interaction with the crowd. No waving, no pointing, almost no looking....I can understand not talking at all because of his voice...but still that just adds to the isolation! Contrast this with Brad Delp's, David Coverdale's or Glenn Hughes' constant interaction with their crowds both physically and vocally (talking) and this was really my only disappointment with the show. Billy, Rich and Robby all seem to interact well with the crowd. One time I was watching Rich and saying " yeah Rich!" and he started doing this sort of spider imitation with his fingers or like he was imitating a keyboard player at me...Which was funny because I'm a keyboardist.

At the end I also found it strange that the band didn't do a group bow like almost every band I've seen in the past couple of years. It was just a walk across the stage while waving without stopping! There seemed like a lot of distance between the band members during that part, almost like they all didn't like each other.

John
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