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Kansas - Two for the Show CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.30 | 231 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is one of the most amazing prog live recordings I've ever heard in my entire life. 'Two for the Show' is a perfect portrait of the energy and clever interplaying that were always featured in Kansas' brightest moments; it also shows the six members at the top level of their creativity, physical strength and emotional drive. Walsh and Steinhardt shine in their singing roles, creating an effective bridge between the band and the crowd. The instrumental stuff is performed with every piece located in the right place, yet there's a healthy amount of room for some freedom (guitar and violin solos mostly): a special mention goes to Ehart's powerful drumming, which should be more considered in the prog circles, since his precision and tightness are really awesome. Since it is one of their emblematic numbers, 'Song for America' serves as an accurate opener, though the interlude should have been played in its entirety. Some tracks are benefited by the arranged extension offered here: 'Portrait (He Knew)' (linked to 'Carry On Wayward Son') bears a heavily hard guitar duel in its expanding ending theme; 'Journey from Mariabronn' comprises an extra guitar lead and added vibraphone adornments, hence enhancing its essential richness; the exciting "beyond words" medley of 'Mysteries and Mayhem'-'Lamplight Symphony'-'The Wall' sounds as if its components had been originally written during a sole compositional effort that goes from exaltation to contemplation, and last but not least, the incendiary 'Magnum Opus'. This aforesaid suite is introduced by a long, sombre prelude that eventually gives way to the first chords. There are more violin parts in this rendition than in the original studio version; the explosive end sounds as terrifying as a massive vehicle crash, and as hypnotic as a Prokofiev's wild dream. Other highlights are being mentioned right away. The majestic 'Closet Chronicles' (in the double vinyl) sounds pretty close to the original studio version but definitely more ballsy, with special regards to the synth and violin solos at the start of the instrumental interlude and the excellent orchestrated coda. Another track that pretty much resemblences the studio version is 'Paradox', only with a tad rougher vibe. On the other hand, 'Icarus' confirms its staple status in this moving, passionate rendition. The acoustic portion that starts with 'Dust in the Wind', connected to Williams' acoustic guitar solo (something like Hackett with country flavors) and Livgren's grand piano solo (stylish and well-ordained), until the whole band rejoins for the closing section of the beautiful ballad 'Lonely Wind' (one of those overlooked Kansas gems), which in this live rendition sees its last third immensely surpass the emotional charge that had been delivered in the debut album's studio version. I'm not actually sure if I should consider this live recording as the best live recording ever, but since I appreciate it as a neckbreaking live document and I love every single part of the repertoire that had been chosen, I feel obliged to give it the maximum rating.

August 2008 addendum.- In the original review I said that I somewhat missed the inclusion of some of the most ballsy Kansas songs, like 'Down the Road', for instance. But hey, the July 2008 30th Anniversary double CD brings this one and two other rocking gems in CD2, such as the desperate blues 'Lonely Street' and the intrepid country-rock 'Bringing It Back' - both benefit with the expanded arrangements. Also, there is the recovery of 'Closet Chronicles'; the epic 'Hopelessly Human' with an intro quotation of 'Incomudro'; 'Miracles Out of Nowhere' with an excellent Walsh organ solo in the interlude; an amazing drum solo segued into a neckbreaking sped up 'The Spider'; 'Belexes' is also sped up in all its glory. The remasterization allows the double guitars or keyboards highlight the individual components, as well as Steinhardt's recurrent violin deliveries. This "Two for the Show" remains worthy of five for the rating.

Cesar Inca | 5/5 |


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