Kansas Takes It to ‘Point of Know Return’ at 40th Anniversary of ‘Leftoverture’ at The Wiltern Theatre




Ronnie Platt is Golden, Kansas Plugs ‘Prelude Implicit’

By DONNA BALANCIA

It was a resigned era in the 1970s when Kansas the band made it big.  Wedged between the two mini-skirt decades of the 1960s with love-ins and protests, but before the new-wave Devo synth sound, kids were looking for a new style. They wanted to be different.

And Kansas, considered one of the first prog-rock bands of the day, made that transition a lot easier. Like their fans, the band wouldn’t be categorized into a specific niche that came before.

Kansas had a booming sound that sometimes was compared to other big bands of the era, like Boston, but with a violin and songs that border-lined on Jethro Tull, and with all the genius of Frank Zappa’s avant-garde innovation.

Well not much has changed — except band members — but for the most part, Kansas blew away the packed house at The Wiltern last night and gave the fans what they came to see: A real Kansas show.

Kansas is one of the early prog-rock bands and put on a great show at The Wiltern - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Kansas is one of the early prog-rock bands and put on a great show at The Wiltern – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Kansas On Tour

“I’ve always wanted to see them and I never got to so this is going to be fun,” said Bob McGregor of Ventura. “They were always one of my favorites but I never got to see them when I was in high school.”

The band is on a major tour celebrating the 40th anniversary of Leftoverture, an album that set the music world on its ear, mainly for its hit single “Carry On Wayward Son,” written by Kerry Livgren. Livgren, a founding member of the band wasn’t at the Wiltern last night.

Rich Williams and his trademark eye patch has been with the band since 1974 - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Rich Williams and his trademark eye patch has been with the band since 1974 – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Kansas Players

The 70s prog-rock band now consists of founding member and drummer Phil Ehart and early member Rich Williams on guitar, Billy Greer on bass and vocals, fabulous Dave Manion on keys, Dave Ragsdale on violin, Zack Rizvi on guitar and the outstanding Ronnie Platt on lead vocals and keyboards.

It’s not easy filling in the big shoes of Steve Walsh the original frontman, but Platt’s voice is remarkable, hitting the audience like a freight train on the power ballads yet gliding gently through the lighter fare.

The impressive Ronnie Platt, frontman, with guitarist Zak Rizvi - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
The impressive Ronnie Platt, frontman, with guitarist Zak Rizvi – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Kansas on TV

Until the collection of songs is heard in one sitting, those who were mere radio listeners to Kansas in the heyday don’t feel the impact of all these hits. Many have been used for commercials, most notably “Carry On Wayward Son” in a Miller Lite spot and “Point Of No Return” for State Farm.

Regardless, the body of work in is significant and the performance at the Wiltern got the crowd to its feet on more than one occasion.

The Kansas crowd was captivated - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
The Kansas crowd was captivated – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

The Prelude Implicit

Kansas introduced several of its new tunes off the album The Prelude Implicit, and honored the fallen soldiers in Afghanistan with the song “Section 60” marred slightly by disrespectful people at the back bar who were blabbing loudly throughout. If you’re going to be loud and obnoxious, why do you have to do it inside the venue while the band is playing?

Kansas songs reached a new generation through TV commercials - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Kansas songs reached a new generation through TV commercials – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

The New Songs

Also impressive off the new album were the tunes “Refugee” and “Rhythm In The Spirit.”

Most of the audience members came to hear the hits and they got them: “Dust In The Wind,” “Point of Know Return” and of course, “Carry On Wayward Son.”

Kansas continues its great tour, bringing its famous tunes to the world. Did it matter that not all the original guys from the old days were at The Wiltern?  No, because on hand were those beloved  songs, the excellent sound, and the great memories.

Set List

Kansas at the Wiltern, April 26, 2017:

The Coming Dawn (Thanatopsis)
Hold On
Chasing Shadows
Reason to Be
Refugee
Icarus II
Icarus – Borne on Wings of Steel
Point of Know Return
Paradox
Journey From Mariabronn
Lamplight Symphony
Dust in the Wind
Rhythm in the Spirit
The Voyage of Eight Eighteen
Section 60
Carry On Wayward Son
The Wall
What’s on My Mind
Miracles Out of Nowhere
Opus Insert
Questions of My Childhood
Cheyenne Anthem
Magnum Opus
Encore:
Portrait (He Knew)