By Shannon Hall
The times may change, but the music lives on forever.
Last Friday night, classic rock band Kansas made a stop at the JMU Convocation Center as part of its 2011 Collegiate Symphony Tour. Backed by the JMU Symphony Orchestra, the concert bridged the gap between generations, drawing in an audience of both young and old.
Kansas began the evening with a heavily instrumental song, “Howling at the Moon.” Opening with melancholic violins and a pounding bass drum, the song eventually built itself into a multilayered piece. Keyboard and vocals were brought in further into the song, evoking howls from various crowd members. It was just a taste of what was yet to follow.
“On the Other Side” was a slow number with souring guitar and a powerful chorus.
The beat coming from Steve Walsh’s keyboard ebbed and flowed like waves rushing upon the shores of a beach. The orchestra filled in the slower gaps of the song before the band picked up the tempo, leading into the chorus.
About halfway through the set, the famous “Dust in the Wind” began. Richard Williams’ beautifully crafted acoustic riffs floated through the venue as a spotlight shone on him. With only the addition of Walsh’s vocals, it was a stark contrast to the earlier songs, which added depth with the orchestra and band interaction.
However, after the first run-through of the chorus, the faithful string section was brought in, with Dave Ragsdale playing lead violin. Williams’ guitar sank in with the other instruments, joining the structure of the song
Next, Kansas launched into “Fight Fire With Fire,” a song they dedicated to the men and women who serve our country. With its distorted guitars, infectious beat, and rousing chorus, the audience couldn’t help but clap along.
At last, the much-anticipated “Carry On Wayward Son” was performed, evoking thunderous cheers from the start. The band was clearly having a good time with the song, sharing smiles and pouring their passion into the music. With their cool, yet commanding stage presence, Kansas captivated the crowd, and transported them back to the ’70s.
Launched a year and a half ago by Kansas, the Collegiate Symphony Tour is designed to help raise funds for college and university music programs.
This year also marks the 35th anniversary of “Dust in the Wind,” though it is anything but old. As proven by the band’s striking performance, and the boisterous applause from the audience, it is still a popular song, and shows classic rock still resonates within the hearts of many today.