It’s never easy when a band member leaves a group, particularly a beloved one who the fans have grown attached to. But when that band member is also the lead singer, it is often near impossible to recover from such a loss and still keep the fans filling the seats night after night. But somehow that is exactly what Kansas has managed to accomplish.
After splitting with longtime singer Steve Walsh in 2014, Kansas recruited Chicago native Ronnie Platt to take up the reigns as lead singer/keyboardist for the band. While some were uncertain if the changeover would be a bumpy one, the band has managed to gain momentum in the nearly four years since then, releasing an album of new material (2016’s “The Prelude Implicit”) and continuing to sell out tour stops in cities around the world.
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One of the stops on their current tour is Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa’s Event Center, where they will perform 8 p.m. Friday, March 9. We were lucky enough to grab a few minutes to chat with Platt about how he has adjusted to his new role in the band.
At The Shore: You replaced Steve Walsh back in 2014. Was that terrifying? How has the fan reception been since then?
Ronnie Platt: Things happen so fast. You know how when you avoid a car accident in the moment it might not affect you, but a minute later you are tensed out? I think that’s what it was like. Everything happened so fast that my brain didn’t have a chance to absorb it. It’s been great and I’m very fortunate that I have been so well accepted by the fans.
ATS: On this current tour you guys are planning to do a greatest hits-type set. How do you expect the crowd reaction to be to that?
RP: As a matter of fact Atlantic City is the first night of the tour! That is night number one. The energy level will be high! Of course you are not going to come to a Kansas show and not hear “Dust In The Wind” or “Carry On Wayward Son” right? But we have to be a little self indulgent too. We try to please every level of fan. A lot of Kansas fans they like those deep cuts and so do we.
ATS: is there a particular song in the set that you really look forward to performing?
RP: Ya know, that is like asking which one is your favorite kid. No, I really just love to get going. I love to get out there on that first song. It’s definitely a zone thing for me. Every song becomes my favorite song.
ATS: What’s do you guys do with your down time while on tour?
RP: It’s funny because it’s a perspective that a lot of people don’t see. There really isn’t a lot of down time, because it’s rare that we play the same city two nights in a row. We are constantly moving. When we do have a day off from gigs we are constantly working on new music. That is one of the things that’s very demanding about being in this band. The level of musicianship that you have to keep up with is pretty intense.
When a new spot opens, I try to stop in to see what all the fuss is about. Most times it’s m…
ATS: Any plans for a new studio album after this tour is over?
RP: We are already working on the next studio album. We are going to be working as we are touring on new material.
ATS: Kansas has been around for more than 40 years. Over that time has the audience morphed at all? Are you seeing younger fans out there each night?
RP: That is something I have witnessed just in my time being in the band. It seems like there is a lot of younger people — I mean people in their teens and twenties— who are coming to the shows with their parents and grandparents. It’s great to see. We refer to that as “job security!”