Masque Tour 1975 (Virtuoso 072)
Paramount Theater, Portland, OR – December 12th, 1975
(47:43): Song For America, Icarus (Bourne On Wings Of Steel), Down The Road, Belexes, drum solo, guitar solo, Child Of Innocence, Bringing It Back
Masque Tour 1975 brings to silver a previously undocumented Kansas show from the Masque era. On December 12th they opened with Ten Nugent for Aerosmith at the Paramount Theater in Portland. It is unclear if this forty-seven minute soundboard recording captures the entire show or not. Since they were lower down on the bill they wouldn’t play a complete ninety minute concert. Hoever, before “Bringing It Back” they say they will play a couple songs from the first album. The tape cuts off at the end rather abruptly.
Compared to the December 2nd Pittsburgh show, Portland is lacking “Lonely Street,” “Mysteries & Mayhem/The Pinnacle,” and “It Takes A Woman’s Love.” Regardless, the sound quality is almost perfect. It comes directly from the engineer who worked the mixing desk that night and is well balanced and very bright sounding and rivals an official release for sound quality.
This current performance was part of the tour for the new album at the time, Masque. For insights into the band’s situation in 1975, band historian states: “Masque was a tense time period for the band. Their label, Kirshner, didn’t see a single on Song for America and really pushed the band that they needed to deliver a hit-single. The band tried their best with ‘It Takes of Woman’s Love,’ but the single, remixed and edited, failed to chart. The remainder of the album was rather dark with songs like ‘Child of Innocence’ and ‘Mysteries & Mayhem.’ The label was none too happy. The album sold about 250,000 copies, about the same as Song for America and was on the charts for 20 weeks, peaking at #70 in February 1976.”
The length of the set doesn’t preclude a good representation of their talents. After a short introduction they begin with the ten minute “Song For America.” It remains one of Kansas’ most majestic openers. Robby Steinhardt mentions they will do material from the new album including the story of a modern day Icarus for “Icarus (Borne On Wings Of Steel).” Another song from Masque “Down The Road” follows, bringing a catchy boogie to beak up the tension.
“Belexes” is followed by a three minute long Phil Ehart drum solo and a Kerry Livgren guitar solo, something which was adventurous for the band in a the supporting slot. The dark “Childhood Of Innocence” follows and the set closes with an excellent “Bringing It Back.” This song would normally reach about thirteen minutes but in Portland last just over eleven. Since there are merely a handful of recordings from the Masque era, and since Kansas silver titles are a rarity, this is a much welcomed release and given the sound quality is highly recommended.