The band Kansas is coming to the Tivoli Theatre in February. It is one of my all-time favorites. I've seen Kansas several times. The Atlanta show on the "Leftoverture" tour ranks among the best concerts I've ever seen.
But I won't be going to see the band in Chattanooga.
The only remaining original members are guitarist Rich Williams and drummer Phil Ehart. To me, that makes it Kansas only by name. When original members leave, you can bring in new—maybe better—musicians, but they're hired guns.
I don't fault Williams and Ehart for keeping the band going; it's how they make a living. But if you don't have guitarist Kerry Livgren, vocalist/keyboardist Steve Walsh and bassist Dave Hope, it just ain't Kansas.
Those are the guys who slogged through the early years of never-ending roadwork, playing seedy clubs while trying to make it. Those are the guys who wrote and played songs like "Carry On Wayward Son," "Point of Know Return" and "Dust in the Wind." Those are the guys who are invested in the songs and play like they are.
But Kansas isn't the only band carrying on without its wayward sons.
After losing bassist John Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon, The Who have pushed on with vocalist Roger Daltrey and guitarist/songwriter Pete Townshend. But there's a musical hole in the band. As the rhythm section, Entwistle and Moon were key to The Who's aggressive, explosive, exploding sound. You simply can't replace them and expect the same feeling.
When David Lee Roth left — or was tossed out — of Van Halen, the band changed, and not for the better. Yes, Sammy Hagar is a great singer and full-tilt rocker and, yes, the band had its biggest radio hits with him. But it also lost Roth's outsized attitude, his just-this-side-of-camp fun. That's why the new configuration was called Van Hagar.
And let's not even talk about (although I am) Guns N' Roses when vocalist Axl Rose took a band by that name out on the road from 2001 until 2015, with no members of the original band but a boatload of other musicians coming and going. Are you kidding me? It wasn't the real Guns N' Roses until guitarist Slash and bassist Duff McKagan rejoined and went on tour in 2016.
I'm sure there will be excellent musicianship at the Kansas concert at the Tivoli. You'd have to be top-notch to play the band's songs.
But it just won't be the same, and I just can't talk myself into going.
Contact Shawn Ryan at email@example.com.