It was a go about your business atmosphere when I was at the Toto soundcheck late afternoon in the Canyon Club Agoura Ca. One by one members of Toto showed up. Simon Phillips (d) tested his monsterous kit, Lee Sklar (b) thumped away on his bass, Bobby Kimball (v), Tony Spinner (g,v) & Greg Phillinganes all came in about the same time and began doing what they've done for years. Practiced their trade. Then here came Steve Lukather like he'd been shot out of a cannon! He was cussing up a storm in a jovial, joking manner. If you're in Lukes line of vision you're fodder for his humour. Luke talked about how he'd watched the Paris Hilton debacle on T.V. ALL DAY LONG! Now we knew we were going to hear some Paris jokes later that night in front of a jam packed hometown crowd! The soundcheck was a show within a show. The lucky few who were there watched the guys bust out an impromptu rocked up version of the Munster's theme & listened to Luke channel his humour towards Paris.
But then the same Luke who screamed in like a cussin' tornado then gave Simon free reign to pick & choose the setlist. Luke said "This is home. These are our people. We can't go wrong!" On this team even it's star let's everyone have a say about what goes on in the show. The lucky few at the soundcheck got even luckier as former Toto lead singer Joe Williams joined the guys on stage as Luke called him up. Luke said "Lets do Pamela for Joe".
It was now showtime! The show started out in rip roaring fashion. Sitting so close to the stage and the speakers was an ear splitting experience. The power and clarity of Simons drumming rang through even clearer than usual. Gypsy train made it apparent that we were in for a treat. The crowd was ripped by the throat by the opening number and the ride never let down. The family affair started out when early on Joe Williams who sang lead on Pamela joined the party. Williams who was the lead singer for Toto on the Farenheit & The seventh one albums added to the "wall of sound". Joe's voice backed by Luke, Bobby, Tony & Greg was a force to be reckoned with. It was like he never went away. Joe came out and also lended his voice to the European smash Bottom of your soul.
I had the chance to talk to Williams after the show & he was very happy to be a part of the Toto experince once again. Williams told me "It's great to be here. It's been ten years! I sang on Bottom of your soul on the Extra T.V. show and at last nights show but it's been a long, long time. I'd do anything for these guys! This is really, really fun! I told him it sounds like the magic is still there between you guys. He said "Thank you very much. This is really cool. My family is here with me". I added with Lukes son Trevor here it's a real family experince. Joe said "It's nice. Real nice." It was obvious that Joe is a team player too. He helped strengthen the hometown family vibe. I noticed that with Joe sounding so great it seemed to energize the band vocally all the way around. Just like an all-star game where everyone seems to bring their "A" game. This was even more obvious on Stop loving you.
The family affair took another turn when Trevor joined the guys on the rocker Hold the line. This proved once again what a diverse band this is. After a long acoustic set the boys turned it up a notch again. These guys touch all the bases like nobody else. With Luke, Greg and Sklar the list of sessions these guys have done is mind blowing! The smile never gets any bigger on Lukes face than when he's talking about or playing with Trevor. We were treated to the usual Sammy Davis Jr. & Michael Jackson impressions by Luke. But we were also blessed by some new material thanks to Paris Hilton. Luke even referred to the blonde haired Tony Spinner as "Paris". Luke was also brave enough to go where no man has gone before. He burried his head inside of Sklars' elongated beard! Luke will do about anything for a laugh!
When someone in the crowed shouted out "ZZ Top" in refrence to Sklars beard the guys busted out a little Texas Trio. Luke did get serious when he said "There's a great misconception to this band." At a Toto show everyone there gets it or at least if they didn't before they do after they've witnessed the "Toto magic". He reiterated "People don't get us. There is a misconception." Not a single look of dissapointment was seen as the crowd left. This was a great night for all. I was lucky enough to chat with TWO living music Rock legends after the show. Both Alan Parsons (Alan Parsons Project, engineer on Abbey Road & Dark side of the moon) and Keith Emerson (ELP/Nice) came to show their support for the guys. Both told me what a great time they had and how much they enjoyed the show. Parsons said "It was a great show. Luke is always having a good time. He's "on" ALL THE TIME!"
Stevelukather.com, June 9th 2007