Kansas | April 26, 2024 | Mayo Performing Arts Center | Morristown, NJ – Concert Review


Review by Ralph Greco, Jr.

As long in the tooth as I am, it’s nice to be surprised by a classic band’s concert setlist; even better to be bowled over by it. Kansas pretty much knocked me out with a blistering two hours of their present Another Fork in the Road – 50th Anniversary Tour.

Opening with “Belexes,” from the first Kansas album, the group moved on to “Point Of Know Return,” “Play The Game Tonight,” and “Fight Fire With Fire.” The band then hit full steam ahead, showcasing their 50 years on the planet with some very deep cuts.

The pairing of “Icarus – Borne On Wings Of Steel,” with “Icarus II” was an especially tasty morsel, as was “A Glimpse Of Home,” from Monolith, a song guitarist Rich Williams told me at the after-show he found especially fun to play.

“Lonely Wind,” another deeper cut from their first album, was played during their acoustic set. And as he did all night, Ronnie Platt sang these ‘softer’ tunes, which also included the expected “Dust In The Wind,” just as well as he did the heavier numbers.

Bassist Dan McGowan of The Tea Club should also be noted for stepping in for Billy Greer at the last minute for this show, having one day of rehearsal. He later told me he took this high-stress situation out of his bass this night, but he nailed all those complicated bass parts on the nose…and sang, too.

A fast and furious read of “Down The Road” was dedicated to dearly departed Kansas violinist and vocalist Robby Steinhardt. Violinist Joe Deninzon jammed his all on his violin. Not only a great player, Deninzon is a wonderful visual foil for Platt during those moments when  the singer has to play the keys and sing.

Of course, Williams managed his tasty playing standing edge stage left, manning both electric and acoustic guitar. Always a force of nature, he is still one of the great understated guitarists in rock. Tom Brislin, making those complicated keyboard parts look easy, was situated on a riser opposite drummer Eric Holmquist, standing in for Phil Ehart who is recuperating after suffering a stroke. Holmquist, temporarily promoted from his usual gig as Ehart’s drum tech, couldn’t have been better. Guitarist Zak Rizvi, who left Kansas in 2020 and now back for his first show, added just that right amount of heavier umph, especially felt on “Down The Road.”

On the final lap, the group pulled out “The Wall” and a fantastic “Miracles out of Nowhere,” before the expected encore of “Carry On Wayward Son,” which gave us almost all of the first side of Leftoverture.

This tour “will be put to bed,” as Williams told me, with Ehart possibly returning to the band later in the year. But one knows. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, we seem to be able to return to Kansas again and again. And lucky for us we can.

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