Concert Review Archive

 

Kansas

Tuesday, 14th June 2011
De Boerderij, Zoetermeer, The Netherlands

Article and photos By Dave Baird

Argus

Despite what many of our readers may think, life at DPRP is not all sex, drugs, and rock and roll. In fact the hardest drugs tend to be espresso coffee and the odd beer (Belgian mindů), and being prog nerds we're all obviously involuntary celibate. Even the roll doesn't always rock, nor the rock roll, but every now and again our hard labour of love finds reward with something special.

Such was the case for me with Kansas. This is a band I'd heard of for the last three decades, but never took the trouble to listen to - maybe I've some unconscious pro snobbery discarding anything that's not from England or Sweden, I couldn't say. However, when I put my hand up to go and see the band live (partly it must be said as payback for Joris letting me do the Rush gig) I found myself rushing (no pun intended) to actually listen to some of their material so as not to be a total virgin (see above) on the night.

Seemed to me a good initiation would be their recent live DVD Know Place Like Home, Bob seemed to get on with it and he's very picky with scores and didn't know the band either. The DVD revealed some nice songs in front of an adoring audience and I figured I get by.

Cut to the sold-out gig at De Boerderij and the crowd is clearly made up mostly of the faithful sporting Kansas t-shirts and hats, and for once I might just be below the average age! Patience is the order of the day though as first-up is the support act Argus, a band I'd never heard or heard of until this moment. Now they weren't too bad given that, like most support acts, not a lot of care had been taken in setting up their sound. Their music struck me as a neo-prog band with strong early Marillion and I.Q. influence.

Argus

Their songs lacked immediate melody though, so I can't really recall any of them, but the performance was competent enough and I was quite impressed with the drummer Jos van den Heuvel and bass player Ed de Groot who both seemed very solid. After some digging on the web I found their official site which has some sample MP3's which are worth checking out. Unfortunately for our international readers this site is only in dutch, which considering they sing their songs in English is a bit sloppy. Worth a listen though and with a little more care in writing they clearly have the talent to go forward in the business.


Kansas
Argus got a warm reception, but of course the bulk of the crowd were here to see one band only and when the lights dimmed again a huge roar greeted Kansas as they took to the stage.


Now for those that don't know Kansas, their music is generally what I'd term symphonic, melodic pro. They haven't released any new material for more than ten years with the bulk of their setlist taken from their earlier 70's albums. On top of that, like many of these classic bands, the setlist is pretty static - supposedly because the band know the audience expect these particular songs and not to play them would disappoint.


So there were no surprises in the setlist, it was pretty close to the Know Place Like Home DVD. Was the predictability an issue? Well for me certainly not as it's all pretty new to me, and I don't think for the appreciative crowd either who appeared to get what they wanted, going bonkers for every track.


If Kansas ever get bored playing the same songs night after night they certainly didn't show it and despite being, in the words or bassist Billy Greer "still quite jet)lagged" they showed quite some energy on stage. Billy handles most of the banter with the crowd and on two occasions he gave his appreciation for the show being sold-out, "what with tomorrow being a working day and all".

Kansas

The band clearly enjoyed the show and fed off the excited crowd. David Ragsdale, the violinist/second guitar, was the most energetic on stage. He's seems the youngest member of the band and uses a wireless microphone headset for backing vocals, so he's free to roam around and pose for the audience - mostly for the ladies it seems, with whom he appears very popular (he was given a rose at the end of the show by one admirer!).

Kansas

Kansas

Billy also strutted around quite a bit and Steve Walsh came down from his keyboard podium when possible to sing at the font of the stage - all in all quite lively given that these guys are reaching their pensionable age. The performance was flawless and the sound mix/volume spot-on (this seems to be a feature of De Boerderij which is fast becoming one of my favorite venues).

Difficult to pick out any particular highlights as it was top quality from beginning to end, but I must say the song Dust in the Wind was beautiful to hear live with lovely twin acoustic guitars, Billy backing-up guitarist Rich Williams.

Belexes also sticks in the mind with it's distinctive unison riffing interspersed with the soaring vocals of Steve Walsh - this guy's voice is amazing and very distinctive. Every song saws delivered with punch, conviction and energy, it was great to see and hear.

The obligatory ending of the show was their most well-known song Carry On Wayward Son, which also happens to be the heaviest in the setlist and a fitting close to a very fine performance. So Kansas got themselves at least one extra fan on-board and delighted their fans.

I'll be eagerly looking into their back-catalogue as I imagine many of these songs we're even better when originally recorded. If you're into good symphonic prog, but don't know this band, then I would urge you to check them out. How the hell did I miss them all these years and plenty of life in the old dog yet it seems!

Slideshow

Setlist
Magnus Opus
Musciatto
Belexes
Point of Know Return
Song for America
On the Other Side
Hold On
Dust in the Wind
The Wall
Cheyenne Anthem
Miracles Out of Nowhere
Icarus- Borne on Wings of Steel
Portrait (He Knew)

Fight Fire With Fire
Carry on Wayward Son

Links
Kansas Official Website
Kansas Myspace

Argus Official Website
Argus Myspace

De Boerderij

 


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