Kansas certainly has an impressive stage show. Billowing white curtains surround the musicians as they play. Pinpoints of light explode like blasts from ray guns. Smoke machines, lasers and flash powder are used as visual accompaniments to the group's boisterous antics. And the piece de resistance is a gagantic mural of a spacy landscape complete with a glowing moon.
Add all of these to their music and you get. . .well, just an impressive stage show.
The group, which appeared at the Capital Centre Saturday night, never managed to equal in sound what it presented in sight. Intricate, contrapuntal lines in sweeping, organlike chords were set to pounding beats and pimply-pop vocal bleatings that produced a sound that could be called bubblegum baroque.
The show featured many of their Top 40 hits and a complete performance of their new record, "Monolith." While the musicians were reasonably proficient, they seemed to lack the imagination to create an original sound. Instead, they were like a watered-down version of the English groups Yes and Genesis -- the mock-classical harmonies and melody lines were there, but Kansas added blaring, heavy metal guitars and a boogie approach that nullified any sense of musicality.
Kansas demands nothing of its listeners beyond a passive submission to the earsplitting volume of the music and a high tolerance for their self-inflating stage pattern. And, of course, their fans must have a penchant for lush, lunarlike visuals set in a black, musical void.
With Kansas, what you see is what you get.