Two For The Stage (Highland HL436/437)
Budokan, Tokyo, Japan – January 16th, 1980
Disc 1 (49:50): Introduction, Song For America, People Of The South Wind, Point Of Know Return, On The Other Side, Closet Chronicles, The Wall, Dust In The Wind, Child Of Innocence, Down The Road
Disc 2 (65:51): Stay Out Of Trouble, Portrait (He Knew), Sparks Of The Tempest, Carry On Wayward Son, How My Soul Cries Out For You (incl. “violin” and “drum” solo), Magnum Opus. Bonus tracks, Lonely Wind, Dust In The Wind, Song For America, The Wall
After the May, 1979 release of Monolith, Kansas’ sixth album, the band went on their biggest tour yet. When the tour ended six months later on December 13th at the Forum in Los Angeles, they visited Japan for the first time after the Christmas holiday. The four shows in Japan were their first in the far East and only their second trip over since (following a thirteen show trip to Europe in March, 1978).
The early Monolith shows covered the entire album plus their biggest hits, but that was eventually changed. When they visited Japan, only four news songs remained with the rest of the show serving as a “greatest hits” revue for an audience who never had a chance to hear their older material.
Two For The Stage contains the complete January 16th, 1980 show at the Budokan in Tokyo. This is the fourth and final date in Japan. The sound quality is distant, thin, and not very good. The only significant cut is found at 5:11 in “Portrait (He Knew).”
At the start of the tape is the mc introducing the band before “Song For America,” a stirring song returned to the setlist after being dropped, followed by the new single “People Of The South Wind” and “Point Of Know Return,” perhaps their biggest hit to date.
Robbie Steinhardt greets the audience afterwards, telling the Budokan they have been wanting to visit Japan for years and are happy to finally make it over to play for them. He introduces the new song “On The Other Side.” It was released as a single in Japan and opened the US dates. For Japan, it is played as a quasi-medley with “Closet Chronicles” and “The Wall.”
Steinhardt introduces “Dust In The Wind” as his personal favorite from Point Of Know Return. Even in the poor recording it’s very powerful and moving.
“Stay Out Of Trouble” is the third Monolith song in the set and the most interesting since it boarders close to being jazz-rock-fusion. The following two songs, “Portrait (He Knew)” and “Sparks Of The Tempest” contain perhaps the heaviest music of the evening. American progressive rock always edged closer to heavy metal than it’s British counterpart.
“Carry On My Wayward Son” was Kansas’ biggest hit and receives the biggest reaction from the audience who clap along and stomp their feet. The track segues directly into a melodramatic version of “How My Soul Cries Out For You” which includes a violin solo, a drum solo, and body dropping from the ceiling.
Their old set closer “Magnum Opus” is brought back as an encore for the Japan shows.
The bonus tracks are from a 1978 album called Kansas Mini-Concert. Released on Kirshner Records right after the release of Two For The Show, it contains four songs from the live album “Lonely Wind,” “Dust In The Wind,” “Song For America” and “The Wall.” Side A has these four tracks “banded” (mixed together) and Side B are the same tracks “unbanded” (separated). Highland include the second side for this release.
Bootlegs from the Monolith tour are very rare. It seems not many bothered to record the shows. The only other popular recordings from this era are the July 4th, 1979 WLS radio broadcast from Wisconsin (marred by poor reception because of an electric storm) and the December 5th show in Albuquerque.
Two For The Stage is the only currently circulating title documenting this period in Kansas’ history. It is a nice Highland production given what they had to work with. Hopefully there is an uncirculated Mr. Peach recording of the other Tokyo show or the two Osaka concerts sitting in the archive waiting to be released. Until that day comes, this unfortunately serves as the definitive silver release.