Kansas - Live in Wichita, Kansas

Hartman Arena
Wichita, Kansas

By Jeb Wright
Photos by
Mark Schierholz

Acoustic Set:
Reason to Be | All I Wanted | Hold On | Chasing Shadows | Refugee

Electric Set:
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

Portrait (He Knew)

The band Kansas is on the road with no opener performing a nearly three-hour nightly set to their biggest fans. The overall reception to the show, known as the Leftoverture Concert by many, has been stellar…and why not…the band pulls out all the stops. There are massive hits, new songs, deep album cuts and their classic album Leftoverture album played in its entirety. This is, simply put, a great time to be a Kansas fan.

The show begins with a five-song acoustic set. Opening with the happy “Reason to Be” from their classic 1979 album Monolith, the band then trotted out their last Top 20 single “All I Wanted” from the 1986 album Power. Lead vocalist Ronnie Platt gave a great performance on this tune, showing off his range.  “Hold On” from 1980’s Gold certified Audio Visions came next. A deep cut titled “Chasing Shadows” was included as well.  This one is literally brought back from the dead.

The song was on the lackluster 1982 effort titled Vinyl Confessions. The tune proves the album had more to it than history may remember. The acoustic set closed out with a new tune from the band’s latest studio effort The Prelude Implicit. Titled “Refugee” the song is about human trafficking and see’s the band allowing their social conscious into their music…something very rare for this band.

As “Refugee” trailed off each member drifted off and took their place with their electric instruments, standing in silence waiting. The last member to join was founding member and guitarist Richard Williams. Once the song ended drummer, and the other founding member in the band, Phil Ehart, took the stage. The band opened with “Icarus II” from the year 2000’s Somewhere to Elsewhere.  

As good as the acoustic set was the electric set was even better. This band really shines on stage. Now a seven-piece Kansas consists of guitarist Zak Rizvi, violinist/guitarist David Ragsdale, keyboardist David Manion, bassist/vocalist  Billy Greer as well as Williams, Platt and Ehart. 

The hardcore whine about only two original members still being in the band but any naysayer that listens will walk away quite satisfied. Before one allows damnation to rear its ugly head one should remember that guys named Livgren, Steinhardt, Walsh and Hope all choose not to be in the band. Most even make a guest appearance now and then. Williams and Ehart lead the charge and keep the music alive and thriving.

The rock set saw the band performing a few classics (“Borne on Wings of Steel,” “Point of Know Return” and “Dust in the Wind”) as well as a few fan favorites (“Paradox,” “Journey From Mariabronn”) and a lost classic (“Lamplight Symphony”). The band take this opportunity to introduce those who have not heard the new album to two of the best cuts The Prelude Implicit has to offer. The first cut played was the rocking “Rhythm in the Spirit.” The second was the Livgren-esque “The Voyage of Eight Eighteen.” The band then performed an instrumental off the new album titled “Section 60.” The song is dedicated to those in Arlington National Cemetery and each performance of the emotional tune features a service member presenting the America flag. I can tell you this much…no one was kneeling. It was a powerful moment that reminded everyone in attendance that freedom is certainly not free.

At the end of the electric set the backdrop changed and the speakers bellowed out the infamous song lyrics “Carry on my wayward son” and just like that it was time for Leftoverture. The entire album was hammered out flawlessly. The energy in the room was huge and the band nailed it. As if the night were not good enough we were even treated to an encore of “Portrait (He Knew).”

This was perhaps a tip of the hat to what will be coming to Kansas fans in September of 2018. The next album to be performed in its entirety will be the classic Point of Know Return, the album that contains “Portrait.”

Ronnie Platt has been with the band long enough that I won’t even bother with Steve Walsh comparisons.  I can tell you that 99% of all Kansas fans have accepted Platt for both his vocal prowess as well as his charisma (and despite his rock ‘n’ roll pants). The newer guys have found a home as well. As have the long term members like Greer and Ragsdale. This band, and crew, is a family.   

Ehart and Williams…what more can be said. Is it special having them onboard? Damn right it is. Ehart is a drummer, as well as a manager, and an archivist. He represents the past, present and future of this band. The cool part is that Phil cares…I mean he truly cares. It is obvious. He realizes the music is more important than those who made it. He sees it as his mission to carry on and keep the music of Kansas alive.    

The other captain of the ship is guitarist Richard Williams. The old salt, patch and all, carries on with Ehart…with dignity and class I might add. Rich leads without saying a word. His actions, and his abilities, speak for him. I would bet that if you asked Rich what Kansas means to him in 2017 he would be tempted to answer ‘everything.’ That is until he reflected on the incredible life he has outside of the band as well. He’s a lucky man…and he does not take a thing for granted. 

Kansas has been down many times. They have been counted out by those close to them. They have even been truly down on their luck. Despite the trending turns in the music industry, however, they continue to push ahead. They defy the odds. They silence the critics. They stand up and believe in what they have done, and what they continue to do.  

There is a Kansas song on Audio Visions titled “No One Together” that sums up what happened to the original six. In 2017, the opposite is true. They are all together, and focused towards the same goal. They continue on the best way they know how…by both celebrating the legacy of Kansas music and adding to it. 

Look for a live album of this tour out in November. Oh…and they will have a new studio album soon too. They won’t be waiting around 16 years like they did last time. 


PS: Manny…damn that place had some killer ice cream! Thanks for the tip!