I’ve always been a fan of Toto, even the commercial stuff – The seventh one, especially, holds a special place in my heart for reasons that don’t belong in this review. But it’s that commercial stuff (not to mention seven Grammies) that overshadows the fact that Toto is a band borne from studio musicians with jazz-rock and progressive-rock chops. And the current members of Toto, including three original ones, are among the best players in the business today.
Toto's progressive tendencies take center stage on Live in Amsterdam, as the band ditches many of its hits in favor of several album tracks and medleys (“Gift With the Golden Gun,” “Girl Goodbye,” “English Eyes,” “Home of the Brave”) and a few choice covers (“While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Bodhisattva). After all, Toto was supporting its moderately received album of covers, Through the Looking Glass, on this tour. When the guys do play their hits, they radically alter the arrangements by adding some incredible jams to “Africa” and “Rosanna." The ballad “I Won’t Hold You Back,” meanwhile, has never sounded quite so soulful or funky.
Ultra-cool guitarist, singer and designated band leader Steve Lukather, five-string bassist Mike Porcaro, drummer Simon Phillips, goofball keyboardist and vocalist David Paich, and singer Bobby Kimball (who lets loose without a microphone) are backed by an additional guitarist and keyboard player who also both sing. Together, all seven show more enthusiasm – perhaps even a bit too much, in the case of Kimball – than most bands that are a lot younger and weigh a lot less. Throw in an over-the-top stadium crowd that puts U.S. rock audiences to shame – and one that seems to leave Lukather genuinely touched – and you’ve got a rousing performance that’s probably more impressive than some metal shows you've attended.
DVD extras include a DTS option, a booklet with a history of the band and one of the most entertaining on-the-road pieces I’ve ever seen. Still, as this disc celebrates 25 years of Toto, some vintage concert and studio footage would have been welcome. Even a collection of the band’s video clips through the years would have made sense – not footage that only encapsulates the end of 2002 and the beginning of 2003. That said, Toto rarely plays the States anymore, so for fans, this concert is probably the closest most of us will ever get to seeing Toto live. Perhaps more importantly, though, it’s a well deserved “fuck you” to the band’s countless critics. That – and this timeless music – is enough to bring a tear of joy to your eye.
Sea of Tranquility, October 4th 2003