United We Rock Tour with Foreigner, Styx and Kansas at Starlight Theatre

​The question you must ask yourself when you are buying tickets to a concert like last night’s United We Rock Tour stop at Starlight with Foreigner, Styx and special guest Kansas: Am I actually getting tickets to a glorified tribute band show?

And then: Do I even care?

An alarming amount of legacy acts from the vinyl era possess only one or two founding members, one of whom, presumably, holds legal rights to the band’s name. The other members are a blend of younger journeymen and older rockers from bands that never quite made it. In an increasingly common case (see: Yes), the replacement singer was a vocal mimic from a tribute band discovered on YouTube.

Earlier this morning, as I was writing this, a host on KCFX 101.1 the Fox, addressed this very issue. He openly complained about how, for him, last night “wasn’t Foreigner.” Direct quote: “You take away the lead singer, you take away the heart of the band.”

Then again, is it less painful to see an unfamiliar stand-in than to watch a once-beloved rock idol, his body ravaged by too many years of lickin’ it up, his face a waxen approximation of itself, his voice not what it once was?

Notice how many tours of late have been canceled due to frontman injury? Who will the Edge get to replace Bono when U2 is eventually on the state fair circuit? If you’re an obsessive, controlling parent, forget American Idol. Begin grooming your kids now for spots in dying legacy acts!

In any case, the absence of original frontmen Lou Gramm (Foreigner) and Dennis DeYoung (Styx) didn’t deter fans from buying out nearly all the tickets to last night’s KCFX-sponsored show. (A few middle-tier, $61-level seats remained when I arrived.)

The crowd at Starlight was mostly white, skewing old but with quite a few members of Generations Y and “i,” all united in an affection for classic rock radio, self included.

And it’s kind of heartbreaking that I missed all but the last song of Kansas’ early 7 p.m. set. The crowd went crazy for “Carry On Wayward Son,” though, and promoter Jeff Fortier said the band (which contains original singer Steve Walsh but not original guitarist and hit-writer Kerry Livgren) “killed it.” If you caught Kansas, by all means, riff on it in the comments.

The remaining two acts painted contrasting portraits of aging rockers. One was graceful and even admirable, the other was hokesville.

Categories: Music