Kansas Shepherds Bush Empire 17-07-14
First up was Bristol 4 piece Tax The Heat who after recent performances at the Download festival and with Aerosmith at Clapham Common came on with a real confidence borne of a band used to large stages.
They played a 35 minute set of uptempo blues rock with a hint of 60's R&B with lead singer and lead guitarist Alex Veale being the focus with an excellent vocal and some sparkling lead soloing.
The rest of the band didn't move around much but with Jack Taylor laying down some serious drum patterns the quality of songs like " Devil's Daughter " and first video " Fed To The Lions " shone through and they went down well with the large crowd.
Here is the video for " Fed To The Lions " and another band to add to the keep an eye on list!!
Kansas hit London for the first time in 9 years and on their 40th anniversary tour but only a couple of weeks since it was announced that legendary vocalist Steve Wlsh was leaving the band. He will play his last show with the band on August the 16th before being replaced by Ronnie Platt.
I have never seen the band live and remember hearing their most famous song " Carry On Wayward Son " on the Friday Rock Show back in the 80's and also on the local pub jukebox.
So at the veteran stage of their career would they still cut it?
A resounding yes with one of the best gig sounds I have ever heard. Loud but clear with everything heard and giving all of the band a chance to shine.
Here is what they played.
Mysteries And Mayhem / Lamplight Symphony
Point Of Know Return
Song For America
Dust In The Wind
Icarus- Borne On Wings Of Steel
Miracles Out Of Nowhere
Down The Road
Portrait ( He Knew)
Encores of Fight Fire With Fire
Carry On Wayward Son
2 instrumentals got the band warmed up with David Ragsdale on violin ( and second guitar on several occasions ) at the forefront and his energy level never dropped throughout the show. As opening songs go they had enough time changes and musical virtuosity to have any prog rock fan go weak at the knees.
On drums Phil Ehart produced one of the best drum displays I have ever seen driving the band on and being a real powerhouse behind his kit.
Rich Williams on guitar showed his class with some superb melodic soloing and excellent acoustic playing. Steve Walsh didn't say a lot between songs and let his quite wonderful keyboard work and exquisite vocals do the talking for him.
Billy Greer on bass played on the Streets cd's with Mike Slamer and more recently with his band Seventh Key and it was great to see him live at last. His superb playing and vocals were top notch as was his and Ragsdale's backing vocals that were up their with the best.
" Point Of Know Return " was every bit as good as I hoped it would be before an acoustic " Dust In The Wind " had the crowd on full throttle with Walsh showing some real emotion in his voice probably realising that his time with the band is nearly up.
" Hold On " had another superb Walsh vocal and the backing vocals from Greer were top notch with a short but perfect Williams guitar solo. In fact it was a refreshing change to the norm that there was no limelight hogging from any member with no long solo passages it really is all about the band and the songs.
The closing set trio of " Miracles Out Of Nowhere " , " Down The Road " and " Portrait (He Knew) raised the bar to an ever higher level with everything just perfect and the crowd in awe at the musicianship.
If possible the encores were even better. Musical melodic rock heaven in the shape of " Fight Fire With Fire " and of course " Carry On Wayward Son " with everyone playing their part and finally getting even most of the stalls to finally stand up.
With that they were gone. A high five from Greer ,a few waves but no bow even from Walsh.
This show was billed as " An Evening With Kansas " and that for me was the only downer on the night. With ticket prices at the high end of the 30's to get a 75 minute set and 10 minute encore was a disappointment even though everything that we had witnessed was quite simply superb.
I'm glad I have seen them and one to cross off the bucketlist .