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Kansas - Device - Voice - Drum (DVD) CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.22 | 65 ratings

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Symphonic Team
4 stars Playing the game tonight!

I have three different live videos by Kansas (and a couple of live albums as well) and they are indeed a fantastic live band (though, I have never seen them live in real life). Device Voice Drum is a very good concert DVD, but it is hardly perfect. I globally prefer the more recent Kansas DVD release, There's Know Place Like Home which I rated with the full five stars (a rating I don't use a lot and reserve strictly for the most exceptional of releases). Inevitably, I will compare the two DVDs in this review.

One major difference between the two DVDs is Steve Walsh's vocal performance. It is not quite as it should be here! His voice shows considerable strain and he often seems to be unaware of which notes he will be able to hit and not. And some he simply cannot hit which seems to surprise him more than once. He will probably never be entirely back to his old self again, but if you compare the present performance with the There's Know Place Like Home performance, the difference is striking! On the latter he is much more wise and restrained and he does not try to do any vocal acrobatics he cannot mange to succeed in doing.

Robbie Steinhardt is in many ways the star of the show on Device Voice Drum. His lead vocals on Cheyenne Anthem is remarkably good and his violin is as wonderful as always. Phil Ehart and Rich Williams are as good as ever on drums and guitars respectively and Billy Greer does a fine job on the bass. However, while Kansas is traditionally a six piece band, they are only a five piece here, and there is, I feel, something missing here. On There's Know Place Like Home this is remedied by an orchestra and some guest performers like Kerry Livgren and Steve Morse.

Another difference between the present show and the one featured on There's Know Place Like Home is the type of place they perform in and, most importantly, the audience reaction. The band performs here in a small club. The audience seems to sit extremely close to the band, indeed it looks like the audience is almost on the stage! While a close relation to audience is usually a great thing, the audience here seem not to be particularly enthusiastic. Compared with the amazing audience reaction on the There's Know Place Like Home show where the band (deservedly!) gets a standing ovation after virtually every song, the audience here is very quiet and restrained.

Another difference, which is a minor one, is the set list. It is quite similar on the two DVDs I'm comparing, but I generally prefer the one on There's Know Place Like Home over the present one. Most of the songs on Device Voice Drum are very appropriate choices and constitute some of the band's all time best songs like Song For America, Cheyenne Anthem, Icarus, Carry On Wayward Son, The Wall and Point Of Know Return, etc. The eternal Dust In The Wind is, of course, also performed but what on earth is Walsh doing with his voice in the beginning of the song?! A great classic song, but not the greatest performance of it, I'm afraid. A couple of the songs here are perhaps less appropriate choices. I particularly think of The Preacher which is one of the least good songs from the In The Spirit Of Things album from the late 80's. In this song they have a guest appearance by a Gospel choir!

In favour of the present DVD, I should say that Journey from Mariabronn is a fantastic song that is not present on There's Know Place Like Home and the Device Voice Drum version of Cheyenne Anthem is better due to the presence of Robbie Steinhardt (who is not on There's Know Place Like Home).

Having one of these two DVDs is essential, but having both is only for fans. Needless to add, I recommend There's Know Place Like Home (as well as the classic live album Two For The Show) over the present Kansas DVD. But Device Voice Drum is, despite some flaws, still a very good live video release and thus a very worthy addition to a Prog collection.

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |


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