June 6, 2014 Kansas Rock NYCB Theatre at Westbury, NY 5-29-14
Perhaps one of the most influential progressive rock bands of the 1970’s was Kansas. Celebrating their fortieth anniversary in 2013, this year sees Kansas continuing to rock. While it has been over a decade since the band released new material, they still remain relevant in the hearts of fans as they continue to bring their exciting brand of music to the stage each night. On Thursday, May 29th, Kansas came to NYCB Theatre at Westbury along with Arc & Stones to play to a sizable crowd inside the half-round of this uniquely designed venue.
Coming from Nashville, TN, Arc & Stones are a young rock band consisting of vocalist Dan Pellarin, guitarist Ben Cramer, bassist Eddy Bayes, and drummer Joe Doino. Together now two years, the band has spent this brief time crafting their style and touring around to help raise awareness for their music. Having released their debut EP in 2012, Arc & Stones started things off on the right foot. Taking the stage with confidence the band played through their original tunes of soothing modern rock with ease. Pellarin crooned with passionate tones that echoed through the theater, grabbing the attention of younger and older audience members alike. Playing songs like singles “Walkin’ In” and “Control,” they showed the poise of mature musicians who know how to craft quality rock. While the band is based out of Nashville, they do have some strong New York roots, as Pellarin himself grew up right on Long Island out in Elmont. His band has a refined approach, one which could find them on tour with some of alternative rock’s best acts, so keep your eyes open for Arc & Stones.
A sense of excitement permeated the air as the audience waited for Kansas to take the stage. With their longevity, its noteworthy that their line-up has stayed consistent with limited change. Consisting of Steve Walsh (vocals/keyboards), Phil Ehart (drums), Rich Williams (guitar), Billy Greer (bass), and their newest addition of the new millennium David Ragsdale (violin/ guitar), Kansas are a musical force of nature. Making their way through the Long Island area seemingly every year for the past decade their fans have grown to love Kansas, greeting them warmly each and every time they come around. Tonight looked to be no different.
Starting things off with the nice extensive progressive piece “Mysteries and Mayhem” the peaks and valleys were plentiful as the audience settled into the groove. Moving into atmospheric tune “The Wall,” they kept the mood flowing until jolting into hyper-drive with “Point of Know Return.” Walsh’ voice sounded as full of energy as ever and the dazzling work on the keyboard matched with Ragsdale’s violin work put everyone in a trance. Sitting there and witnessing the set as it moved on with songs like “Song For America” and “Hold On” it became evident how ahead of their time Kansas was when these songs were written. Having the edge needed to keep rockers’ attention and melodies and atmosphere to keep prog fans satisfied, this show shined with color. When they broke out into the timeless tune “Dust in the Wind” everyone applauded and then silently listened. No matter how many times one hears this song it never seems to get old. It’s impact of inner reflection only makes it that much more enduring as the years pass.
Moving along the journey of their discography the immensely hip song “Can I Tell You” came along with others like “Miracle Out Of Nowhere,” and the educational “Portrait (He Knew).” Each piece more dazzling than the one before it, Kansas remained spectacular until the very last moment when they closed out with an encore of “Fight Fire with Fire” and classic rock hit “Carry On Wayward Son.” The audience indulged enthusiastically in everything the band had to offer. It is no wonder that four decades into the game, Kansas’ popularity has not waned, and they continue to attract new fans each year while still touring regularly. .