Kansas blew into Sarasota on January 28, 2022, which may explain the increasing windy conditions that evening. Van Wezel had a mostly packed house on this 60-ish degree night with fans of this iconic band. As the building filled with fans and excitement, people in the lobby area that had never met, suddenly felt like friends with Kansas as the common denominator. That’s the beautiful thing about music – it brings people together regardless of anything else!
The lights came up to cheering, whooping, whistling, clapping fans with the band seated on stools across the front of the stage as they began a five-song acoustic set made up of songs from five of their previous 22 albums. The opening song was “People of the South Wind” from the 1979 album “Monolith” and ending the acoustic set with “Lonely Wind” from their very first album, “Kansas”.
Billy welcomed us to the 40th anniversary of the “Point Of No Return” album, then jokingly said, “Actually it’s the 3rd annual 40th anniversary tour since we got shut down for a while there…” which was met with laughter from the audience.
This acoustic set was to gently lead us to the “Point Of No Return!” But before we got to that, they pulled songs from 10 different albums over their illustrious fifty-year existence as Kansas.
As most are aware, Kansas is not your standard rock band. With the violin as part of their standard sound, that sets them apart from all the others. I got what I would describe as a “classical – theatrical” rock vibe from experiencing these guys live. To end the acoustic set, Phil (drummer) made his presence known for the first time mid-way through “Lonely Wind”. The audience loudly and appreciatively recognized the significance of this as a roar filled the room when the lights hit him as he appeared behind his drum set. Phil Ehart is one of two remaining founding members of this iconic band. He, along with Richard Williams, acoustic and electric guitar, have appeared on every album since 1970.
They quickly rearranged the stage and began “The Wall” for the beginning of the full band set. Spectacular lights – resounding keys, drums, violin and guitar combinations sent excitement and chills through the crowd the entire evening! Shouts from the crowd of “WE LOVE YOU KANSAS!” were not ignored as Billy returned that gesture! This is one band that truly appreciates their fans!
I have to also mention something about their most recent album, The Absence of Presence. This was completed before the pandemic hit so the release of this album was perfectly timed and a bit ironic. The lyrics to the title track and “Throwing Mountains” are so relevant. What an incredible album, and what an amazing evening!
Band Members of Kansas
Richard Williams – acoustic and electric guitar (original founding member)
Phil Ehart – drums (original founding member)
Ronnie Platt – lead vocal, keys
Tom Brislin – Keys, vocals
David Ragsdale – violin, guitar, vocals
Billy Greer – Bass, vocals
photo gallery credit: David Carstens
Opening acoustic set:
People of the South Wind (Monolith – 1979)
Hold On (Audio-Visions – 1980)
Memories Down the Line (The Absence of Presence – 2020)
Refugee (The Prelude Implicit – 2016)
Lonely Wind (Kansas – 1974)
Full Band set:
The Wall (Leftoverture – 1976)
Icarus: Borne on Wings of Steel (Masque – 1975)
Throwing Mountains (The Absence of Presence – 2020)
What’s On My Mind (Leftoverture – 1976)
Song For America (Song For America – 1975)
Cold Grey Morning (Freaks of Nature – 2012)
The Song the River Sang (The Absence of Presence – 2020)
Miracles Out of Nowhere (Miracles Out of Nowhere – 2015)
Point of No Return – full album:
Point of No Return
Dust in the Wind
Sparks of the Tempest
Carry on My Wayward Son
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Music and writing are two things that drive me, so the best of both worlds is to write about music; especially local bands and artists! They give me something I can’t live without and supporting their love and drive of bringing that to us gives me something to be excited about and to write about! To bring a concert, an album, or an interview to life for someone else through my written visual is my goal.