Well, first off my apologies for taking so long off from working on the blog.
Been lots of work and few concerts for me so far this summer. I did skip writing about an Eels show in June and a Weird Al show in July. I’ll try to get back to them at some point. I also had tickets to Paul Rogers and missed him due to work travel…so, a much slower couple months than a typical summer for me.
So, tonight I finally made it to the OC Fair for a show. Kansas with Blue Oyster Cult opening. I had high hopes for BOC that sadly they didn’t really meet.
The show was slated for 7:30 on the tickets, but somehow in what felt a little “diva-ish”, they didn’t hit the stage until 8:00pm.
They launched into a slightly rough version of “The Red and the Black” that sorted itself out a bit by the end. Then, “Burnin for You”, which brought the crowd to life a bit. By the third song, “Black Blade”, I had decided a few things.
The tempos were all a bit sluggish and tired feeling, the drummer was not really driving things….and the video director was horrible.
If you have three cameras, don’t waste one on a shot of pretty lights so you superimpose them and thus pretend you’re directing an art film. Oh, and the whole effect is like salt on food, use too much and you ruin things. The constant “light superimposed effect thing” got damn annoying…but worse were the horrible long shots he kept using. The whole point is to show us faces we can’t see from the back. A long shot just duplicates our view…DUH.
Oh, and it was way too quiet for a metal band which I guess is due to venue restrictions.
“Then Came the Last Days of May” also started slow and despite a nice solo never really caught fire. “Cities on Flame” really highlighted the weakness of the drums. The original song features a powerful kick sound that drives the chorus…this version was very weak in that respect and just couldn’t hold a candle to the version on the Extraterrestrial Live album.
Next up was a sluggish “Godzilla” that really was mostly highlighted by a salute to Rudy Sarzo (their current bass player) that had him playing licks from Ozzy, Whitesnake, Quiet Riot and even a verse of Weather Report’s “Birdland”, a band that I’m fairly sure he never played with….next up was a pointless drum solo with pointless slo-mo effects by the video director…at least at this point he’d realized to zoom the shots in a little.
The obligatory “Don’t Fear the Reaper” closed the just under an hour set with a crowd sing (and in some cases cowbell) along with the band. The crowd seemed mostly happy…..I was underwhelmed.
Kansas was up next. I’d seen them last year on my birthday and been very surprised at how good they sounded then. Starting with an intro that moved into “Howling at the Moon” and (I believe) “Belexes” I was struck at how much tighter than BOC they sounded. I have to assume some of this was directly due to Phil Ehart, I’ve always respected his drumming. But after the weak BOC effort as a direct contrast, I could hear a huge difference in the two bands based on that factor alone.
“Point of No Return” was good, although Steve Walsh has a weird sort of vibrato sound to his voice that is somewhat an acquired taste. His upper register is shot, bur he covers as best he can (much like Roger Daltry does these days).
“Hold On” and “Dust in the Wind” followed and both sounded good. One thing I noted was the lighting was better for Kansas too. Not sure why, but using the same rig the LD was much more effective for Kansas. The band was musically spot on too. A weak vocal here and there aside, they demonstrated some serious chops.
They mentioned it’s been 35 years since “Leftoverture” and played a couple deeper cuts. “The Wall” and “Miracles out of Nowhere”, which I really loved hearing, (I played that LP to death back when it was new).
(I have to mention at some point how an older Steve Walsh with his receding hairline and grey beard is a bit of a look-alike for the old guy on the cover now.)
“Portrait(he knew)” had a bit of a train-wreck moment mid-song, but they plowed on and got back on track. A mark of a seasoned and talented band I suppose.
Somewhat surprisingly, that closed the set after a scant 50 minutes. The encores of “Fight Fire with Fire” and “Carry on Wayward Son” finished the night with the band clocking in at 63 minutes.
It seemed an oddly short set from a headliner with 38 years of material to pick from. I mean, a year ago I saw Rush do 3 hours alone including all of Moving Pictures! (THAT is how to do classic rock the right way…)
Overall, a pleasant and technically skilled (but short) night of classic rock from Kansas and a weaker set from a sluggish BOC. Seen far better, but endured far worse too, so a decent (but brief) night out at the Fair hearing some classic rock. There are worse ways to spend an evening….