December 21, 2009

Kansas-There’s Know Place Like Home DVD Review

There’s Know Place Like Home is a stunning live DVD recorded at Washburn University’s White Concert Hall in the band’s home Topeka Kansas. The 50-piece Washburn University Symphony Orchestra backs Kansas during this superb performance. In celebration of their first release 35 years ago, the group - which includes singer/keyboardist Steve Walsh, guitarist Rich Williams, violinist David Ragsdale, bassist Billy Greer, and drummer Phil Ehart – was united with former members Kerry Livgren (guitar/keyboards) and Steve Morse (guitar).

I was not too sure what to expect with this DVD, I only knew one thing; I wanted to see it once I heard it was coming out! It was worth the wait as this DVD was excellent and just blew me away. The production is brilliant and the recording outstanding. You can catch a piece of it here for to see for yourself

Everyone in the band looks great; they all seem healthy and happy. I noticed how much healthier guitarist Richard Williams looked and he definitely shed some pounds. Steve Walsh sounds great, he still does not have the range he once did but with Billy Greer’s soaring vocals behind him, the combination is fantastic and it more than makes up for what Steve has lost over the years. Billy has a great rock voice and is fine bass player. You can check him out in other projects like this year’s Native Window (check out their excellent self-titled release) or Seventh Key.  Native Window is actually Kansas without Steve Walsh and they opened for Kansas at concerts this year.

You get 19 tracks on this DVD including a great light show and a warm hometown atmosphere, making for a fantastic and memorable keepsake for all Kansas fans. The combination of Kansas music with a full orchestra is nothing short of breathtaking. Their music is perfect for this kind of show; it blends prog and symphonic rock and takes it to the next level in a live setting. What makes it even more of a treat is the appearance of founding member Kerry Livgren (guitar) and Steve Morse (guitar). At the end of the DVD, they include a bonus track “Down The Road” (Afternoon Jam) where they taped a sound check that turned into an all out jam session, it is a resounding display of musical acumen and fusion on one stage.

They cover a lot of ground from the Kansas archives spanning over three decades. Songs like the instrumental “Musicatto” shows the audience how complex their music can be and with what precision they reproduce it, ever reminding you of what great musicians each member of the band is, and continue to be. They play all lot of great music from the past including “Song For America”, “Point of Know Return”, “Hold On”, well the list goes on and on. Then to wind down the show down properly they play their mega hits “Dust In The Wind” and “Carry On Wayward Son”.

It is nice to get a DVD that goes far beyond any expectations you may have and this one did it for me. A most impressive performance and production from a band that is still relevant and fresh after all these years.

5/5 Stars

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck

December 20, 2009

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