Final Visions (Highland HL519/520)
Palladium, New York, NY – November 20th, 1980
Disc 1 (44:19): Intro – Wagner’s Lohengrin, Point Of No Return, Icarus / Borne On Wings Of Steel, Paradox, Hopelessly Human, Cheyenne Anthem, Dust In The Wind, You Think You Got It Made, Mask Of The Great Deceiver
Disc 2 (50:31): Miracles Out Of Nowhere, Loner, Anything For You, Don’t Open Your Eyes, Got To Rock On, No One Together, Hold On, Relentless, Portrait (He Knew), Carry On My Wayward Son, Over The Rainbow
Like many bands 1980 was a strange year of change and progression for Kansas. Audio-Visions, released that September, would be the final studio album with the classic line up intact before Steve Walsh would leave to pursue a solo career. Both Walsh (Schemer Dreamer) and guitarist Kerry Livgren (Seeds Of Changed) released solo albums that year as well.
The latter was more controversial since it came right after Livgren’s conversion and is a blatant Christian album. Kansas began their long tour on October 10th in Dallas and the last show wouldn’t be until September 6th, 1981 in Saratoga Springs, New York.
The tour would essentially be to promote all three albums at once. The set list would have one song from each solo album along with the new band material and the classics. They played at the Palladium in New York on November 20th and 21st.
Final Visions is said to be a pre-FM tape from a radio broadcast, but it isn’t clear with radio station carried this show. Regardless, this is a crystal clear, flawless stereo professional recording of the entire concert that night. Highland didn’t tamper with the tape at all.
At the beginning of the tape Wagner’s Lohengrin is played through the PA and when the band hit the stage they play along, segueing into “Point Of Know Return.” They carry on with “Icarus (Borne On Wings Of Steel)” and “Paradox.”
Before “Hopelessly Human” Robby Steinhardt excitedly informs the audience that “Kansas is really raring to go so you came on a good night.” Only part of “Cheyenne Anthem” as a soft ballad, omitting the instrumental passages and it runs directly into “Dust In The Wind.”
Steinhardt informs the audience that they will play a song from each of the studio albums back to back. The first is “You Think You Got It Made” from Walsh’s album. It is a great fast paced number which has more in common with Sammy Hagar and Black Sabbath than Kansas, but it is a good diversion. This is followed by Livgren’s “The Mask Of The Great Deceiver.”
The seven minute tune was sung on the album by Ronnie James Dio and Walsh gives it a good effort. It is obvious the evangelical slant of the lyrics are uncomfortable for him to sing. Instrumentally the song is a bit closer to the Kansas sound however and fits in well with the other material.
“Miracles Out Of Nowhere” from Leftoverture is segued with the new song “The Loner” by a violin screech and is “the first taste of Audio-Visions this evening.” Steinhardt tells the Palladium they will “carry on along those same lines” and play the entire new album except for “Curtain of Iron,” “No Room For A Stranger,” and “Back Door.”
The new songs provide a fascinating contrast with the older, showing other musical influences such as funk incorporated into the Kansas sound. The standout is the eight minute mini-epic “No One Together.” The hit they were promoting is “Hold On,” written by Livgren as a plea to his wife to convert to the faith.
The heavy metal riffs of “Relentless,” one of the more un-Kansas sounding songs from the album, close the set of new songs. “Potrait (He Knew),” the one time set opener, is segued directly with “Carry On My Wayward Son” as the final song of the set.
The great “Magnum Opus,” which closed the set for the previous tours, was unfortunately dropped. The show ends with Judy Garland singing “Over The Rainbow” over the PA. Since there are so few tapes from this tour (one estimate has it at four tapes including the video from the Houston Summit show the following week), having such an excellent recording is beneficial and alone makes this worth having. It is a potent reminder of just how tight Kansas were live and how exciting they were then.
I’m not a huge Kansas fan but, after reading this review, I decided it was time to add a Kansas boot to my collection, as I had access to a very affordable copy of it. WOW!! This is a wonderful set!! Not only the sound quality, which is outstanding (paired with any official release), but the performance is absolutely great. Extremely recomended, even if you’re a casual fan.