Already in 2008, it was reported that the band Toto was calling it quits. The band at that time consisted of Steve Lukather, David Paich, Mike Porcaro, Simon Phillips, Bobby Kimball and Greg Phillinganes. Later the band reunited, in ever-changing compositions. Last year, after their 40th-anniversary tour, the band decided to quit again. David Paich, pianist, singer and composer from the very beginning, could no longer participate for health reasons and Lukather informed the fans in October 2019 that Toto no longer exists. However, he immediately added that they would see the fans again …… “one way or another”
Now, a year later, The Dogz of Oz are ready. Dorothy from the ‘Wizard of Oz’ may no longer have her dog Toto, but Steve Lukather and Joseph Williams return with a new band. To let fans know what to expect, the band played their world premiere of Dogz of Oz on Saturday night in an online live concert from SIR Studios, Los Angeles, California.
About three thousand people had bought a ticket for this show. A sign that Toto’s music is still highly appreciated by the fans, and of the fact that this kind of corona-proof live shows do have a right to exist on their own. At exactly 9 pm the band kicked off with “Till the End” from the album “Fahrenheit”.
Bassist John Pierce (known for Huey Lewis and The News), drummer Robert ‘Sput’ Searight (Ghost-Note, Snarky Puppy), keyboardists Steve Maggiora (Moms Mabely) and Dominique ‘Xavier’ Taplin (Prince, Ghost-Note) and multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Warren Ham are the band behind Steve Lukather and Joseph Williams. These men can clearly be asked to run any musical errand. The band is vocally strikingly strong. All musicians sing and the chorals and backing vocals are phenomenally good throughout the show.
The band continues with the hit “Hold the Line”. Unlike what the fans were accustomed to in recent years the band limits the track to its essence. “Hold the Line” is largely played as it is on the album. The endless live versions that we know from previous tours remain in the closet. The band plays tight and compact versions of their classics throughout the set. Lukather plays loosely and perhaps less “rock” than you would expect, every note is on point and as the concert progresses we saw the fun increase.
On ‘Pamela’ Taplin shows his virtuosity on the keys. Joseph Williams has always had a very good voice, tonight he shows he can still excel, and again the very tight backing vocals stand out. Deepcut “Kingdom of Desire” is the odd man out tonight, because maybe the only Toto song written by an outsider, Danny Kortchmar. Lukather shifts gears on the guitar and shows that he is still keeping his chops up.
Dominique Taplin continues with a piano etude that he transitions into the intro of what has always been a crowd favourite during Toto concerts. “Hydra” ‘s “White Sister” is perhaps the hardest rocking song in the Toto catalogue and was also played spectacularly tonight.
With “You are the Flower” and “I won’t hold you back” the band slows down a bit. The fact that Lukather can no longer sing the last song like the original, really only adds to the life and meaning of it. Warren Ham appears to play the saxophone and flute as well as percussion, a beautiful and welcome addition to the instrumental palette. “Stop Loving You” and “Home of the Brave” then, two real classics where Warren Ham takes over Paich’s vocals on “Home of the Brave”.
Lukather plays like the guitargod he has been since back in the day and is increasingly in his element. And well…….again compliments must be given for the vocal work on these vocally challenging songs. Amazing how well this works with musicians who can all sing.
As drummer “Sput” starts he world famous “Rosanna” shuffle, you can feel the magic coming through the TV screen as David Paich joins his old bandmates onstage. Paich looks fragile and sits behind a keyboard. Together with his brothers Williams and Lukather he brings the song written by him. The piano solo is replaced by a surprisingly good working sax solo, and the piano parts are taken over by Tapin. Still nice to see Paich, including his top hat, back on stage.
The band closes with a dazzling version of the Beatles classic “With a little help from my friends”. Lukather says goodbye with the words “See you all in 21! “And yes they will play that other song too! These Dogz Of Oz will certainly be very successful at the festivals and the big halls next summer. In February both Joseph Williams and Steve Lukather will also simultaneously release a solo album.