In the midst of celebrating their 40th Anniversary, iconic progressive rock act Kansas made a stop at Englewood, New Jersey's Bergen Performing Arts Center for a night of classic material that would please any longtime fan. Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo was on hand to see the band for the first time in 15 years, and brings this full concert report.
This was my first experience at the Bergen Performing Arts Center, and it certainly won't be the last, as this charming little 1400 seat theater is within a fairly close distance and has a wide variety of acts already signed to perform in the coming months. It's always a plus to have another venue booking quality acts in an intimate setting these days. After a solid opening set from Nashville act Arc & Stones, a melodic, alternative rock band who bear a lot of influence from the '90s Seattle scene, US prog legends Kansas took the stage to a rousing applause from the ample crowd in attendance.
Though some might say that the band have not changed their setlist in quite some time (and for the most part that is the case), they clearly know what the majority of their fans want to hear and stick to that formula. All the hits such as "Dust in the Wind", "Carry On Wayward Son", "Hold On", and "Fight Fire With Fire" are mingled with beloved deep album cuts like "The Wall", "Point of Know Return", "Miracles Out of Nowhere", and "Song For America". It was great to hear for the first time live the early track "Can I Tell You", a rousing blues/prog/hard rock gem from their 1974 debut album. Also from that same album came "Belexes", a real scorcher of a track that showcases the bands musical might, with guitarist Rich Williams dueling with both Steve Walsh's keyboards and the soaring violin of David Ragsdale. Through the entire show drummer Phil Ehart pounded away with impeccable precision, and longtime bassist Billy Greer added his heavy grooves along with excellent lead & backing vocals. Walsh for his part sounded very good, his lead vocals stronger than the last time I had seen the band, and though he's lost some range over the years he still hits many of those memorable notes and covers all the organ & synth ground that he and Kerry Livgren tackled all those years ago.
As is the norm with Kansas, the set was just shy of 90 minutes long, and though I'm sure most of the fans would have loved another few tunes ("Journey From Mariabronn", "Child of Innocence", "Magnum Opus", "Closet Chronicles", and "On the Other Side" would have been on my wish list), nobody went home unhappy by any means. After all, a set that includes "Icarus-Borne on Wings of Steel" is a good one in my book. If I don't happen to catch these guys again before they retire, I'll have great memories of this performance to remember them by.
Mysteries and Mayhem / Lamplight Symphony
Point of Know Return
Song For America
Dust in the Wind
Can I Tell You
Icarus - Borne on Wings of Steel
Miracles Out of Nowhere
Down the Road
Portrait (He Knew)
Fight Fire with Fire
Carry On Wayward Son