Gimme back those ruby slippers...
So Friday night my gals and I joined Thunder Thumbs and his brood at the Frederick Brown Jr. Amphitheatre to see the seminal 70’s/80’s ponder rockers Kansas. Why would I do this you might ask? A couple of reasons:
1. The shows at The Fred are cheap. All of us can go and we don’t have to get a baby sitter for Mini Alva.
2. The Fred is literally right around the corner from our house so you travel by golf cart.
3. Hanging with Thunder Thumbs’ family is always fun.
4. The Fred has a grassy patch stage right that you can spread a blanket out on vs sitting in crappy plastic fold down chairs too small for my fat ass.
5. Lastly (and most importantly), you can bring your own cooler packed with libations.
Now, my mindset for attending this show was one of mild curiosity at best, comical Spinal Tap like mocking session at worst, but a good excuse to hang out and drink some wine with friends. What I got instead much to my surprise was blown away. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to go out and pick up the ‘Point of No Return’ re-master or anything, but these fucking guys were undeniably GREAT! I really shouldn’t have been surprised. They ran through their catalog both hits and deep cuts with spirited perfection. All in the band were multi-instrumentalists (think Rush) and played with tremendous amount of zeal for the largely middle aged suburbanite crowd. Steve Morse wasn’t with them, but it didn’t matter really since long time member Richard Williams was more than capable.
I saw Rush quite a bit during the late seventies and early eighties. I wasn’t really a huge Rush fan, but I always made sure I tagged along with the crowd anytime they came around just to dig the musicality and tight performance they always delivered. It still amazes me how three guys can coordinate all that instrumentation and make it sound so good. Kansas' performance turned out the same experience. You may not be gaga for Kansas’ music, but their playing was top shelf and cannot be denied, particularly Phil Ehart’s drumming. And man, those voices!
So I got much more than I bargained for. Would I have gone to see Kansas if the forementioned five circumstances didn’t exist? Not a chance, but that’s just how it is sometimes. If you happen to be at your local county fair and you see Kansas on the bill performing in the big top, forgo the pie eating contest and check out what accomplished musicianship sounds like. You won’t be disappointed.