Toto’s American AOR/Westcoast rockers have been a global value in rock music for over 40 years. In addition to being the hit machine they turned out to be, the individual members of Toto also play on hundreds and hundreds of hits by others that proved to have eternal value in pop music.
Although there is no new album to promote, Toto, under the tantalizing name ‘Dogz of Oz’, has embarked on an already almost sold-out European tour this week. It is only logical that this tour kicked off with two sold-out shows in the 013 in Tilburg, the Netherlands since the Dutch have embraced this band from the very beginning.
Toto has become a completely different band on stage. Over the years, the band, which mainly consisted of childhood friends, had to say goodbye to the groove machine that consisted of Jeff and Mike Porcaro on drums and bass. Both passed way too early. Lead singer Bobby Kimball can no longer sing due to a serious illness and co-founder David Paich can also no longer go on tour due to health reasons. This being said he is still the man behind the scenes as musical director, and largely responsible for how the setlist looks on this tour. The hope is still there that sooner than later the public will be able to see Paich perform on stage again with his closest friends.
The 013 in Tilburg was packed. Toto came and kicked off the European tour in this southern Dutch university city. The set kicked off with “Toto XIV” ‘s “Orphan”, the most recent song to be played this tour. The sound in the 013 is always very good, and so it was again this evening. “Orphan” was also the only track that wasn’t known to everyone in the audience, because what followed for the rest of the evening was nothing less than a greatest hits show, with a few deep cuts known to be loved by the audience.
The band follow through by playing crowd-pleasers “Hold the Line”, “Stop Loving You” and the ballad “I’ll be over You” at a rapid pace. Game, set and match for Toto. Just these three tracks were needed to force the Dutch audience to their knees. Toto came, saw and conquered within 20 minutes.
Singer Joseph Williams has reinvented himself and the healthier lifestyle he says he has adopted has a clear positive effect on the muscles of his vocal cords. What a voice that man has, a great singer we saw on stage. Respect. It has of course been a pleasure for decades to see how Steve Lukather still tortures his guitars every performance. Every gig the audiences are filled with cover band guitarists who want to be like Luke, but will never be like that. A guitar god if there ever was one.
The men from Toto knew that they had won the audience by now, but continued mercilessly from a piano solo into the stomping rocker “White Sister”, perhaps the musical highlight of the evening. What energy! Lukather almost literally shattered his guitar.
Toto surprised the audience with a very fresh and funky version of “Georgy Porgy” in an arrangement by keyboardist Dominique Taplin, who next to Toto-drummer Robert ‘Sput’ Searigh, will be back to Europe later this year with their band Ghost-Note. This song is now good to go for another four decades. Delicious.
The band played on with a number of tracks from “Toto IV” and the delicious deep cut “Kingdom of Desire” came by in an epic rendition. Toto is back with a vengeance and the critics who frugally questioned this line-up beforehand should come and hear the band play. Such a collection of talent and experience has not often shared a stage together.
Normally a drum solo is obligatory nowadays, but the playful and creative solo, interspersed with samples from James Brown, which we were presented by Sput, had a high entertainment and musical level. Of course, the band saved the best sweets for last. With respectively the epic “Home of the Brave”, the Beatles cover “With a little help from my Friends”, and the monster hits “Rosanna” and of course “Africa” the audience got exactly what it came for. Toto once again lived up to their name as one of the very best live acts on the planet. Urgent advice: Go see them, sometime during this European Tour. You won’t regret it.