Kansas – Symphony Of Innocence (Highland HL660/661)

Symphony Of Innocence (Highland HL660/661)

Syria Mosque, Pittsburgh, PA – October 31, 1976 

Disc 1:  Overture, Carry On Wayward Son, Icarus (Borne On Wings Of Steel), Down The Road, Mysteries And Mayhem/Lamplight Symphony/The Wall, Lonely Wind, What’s On My Mind, Miracles Out Of Nowhere.

Disc 2:  guitar solo, Child Of Innocence, keyboard solo/drum solo/Magnum Opus, Song For America/violin solo/Cheyenne Anthem (ending), Belexes

Symphony Of Innocence is the first silver release of a Kansas show since Nautical Almanac several years ago and the first by Highland in ages.  This is the second attempt at this show by the progressive rock label.  The first release, Grim Faced Philosophers, contains most of the tape.  Now for the first time we have the complete and unedited performance with the encores.

An excellent sounding, low generation, well-balanced soundboard recording is utilized for this release.  The music is very heavy here and is not thin sounding like so many other tapes from the seventies.  The audience sounds a bit distant yet are audible.  The encores come from a higher generation tape and sound a bit distorted and flat.  Also they run faster than the rest of the tape.  It doesn’t make the band sound like Alvin & The Chipmunks, but it’s a shame Highland didn’t master it correctly to fit the rest of the show.  

This concert captures Kansas right at the release of Leftoverture and its mega-hit “Carry On Wayward Son”.  With numbers from each of their albums up to that point, we hear the band in their glory.  This band were always an anomaly.  Classified as progressive rock, they had more in common with Lynyrd Skynyrd than King Crimson.  They always drew more from the American idiom than did the English bands with 12-bar influences, Charlie Daniels and even heavy metal.  Kansas have a greater influence upon contemporary progressive bands like Dream Theater than any other.  

The performance on this night is very enjoyable.  “Magnum Opus” is introduced as a song with “six or seven titles” and is a great way to end the show.  “Song For America” is very energetic, and Steinhardt leads the band in a rocking version of Johannes Brahams’ Hungarian Dance No. 4 (with the audience shouting the appropriate “hey!” — trust me, you know the tune).  It’s great to hear a new Kansas release and another great Highland title.  (GS)      

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