The jam packed crowd was appreciative of Toto's return. Toto 2012 is Steve Lukather (g,v), David Paich (p,v), Joseph Williams (v), Simon Phillips (d), Steve Porcaro (k), Nathan East (b,v), Mabvuto Carpenter (v,bgv) and Amy Keys (v,bgv).
The first words that came to me during the show were family and fun. Smiles, laughs and hugs were plentiful throughout the day and night. It was a big time family atmosphere backstage as everyone hung out in the same room and everyone ate together. This isn't always the case. When everyone is having fun on stage that feeling is conveyed to the crowd. It's easier for the crowd to enjoy themselves when ALL of the band members are digging it. I sat near a girl less than half my age who sang the words to every Toto song including the ones off the first two albums. These songs were created many years before she was born.
It was heartwarming to see Steve Porcaro back in the fold. He was a big reason all the smiles, especially Luke's were so big. It was almost magical when they played the Porcaro penned Michael Jackson song "Human Nature" off of the album "Thriller". "Thriller" is the biggest album in the history of recorded music. Luke then informed the audience how he, Paich and brother Jeffrey Porcaro all played on the track. Luke introduced the song by saying how they played the track for Quincy Jones and "someone in the room". Luke mimicked the "someone in the room" in a Michael Jacksonesque voice "Quincy, that's so funky".
Joseph was in top form all night long. He even took it up a notch on the songs he originally recorded with Toto especially "Pamela". Numerous times during the show there were six voices belting out the tunes. It was a magnificent "wall of vocals" including Joseph, Luke, David, Nathan, Amy And Mabvuto. Lost in the shuffle are Nathan's vocals because all of the focus is on his tremendous bass playing skills. Nathan has played with too many people to list all of them but Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Stevie Wonder and Herbie Hancock is the short list. He is also is an integral part of Four Play. Amy is a stunning vocalist who's vocals soared. She stepped out front to sing on the Toto smash signature song "Hold the Line". Amy was a member of Phil Collins Touring band for years. There were no egos involved in letting her step out in front. Luke told her "it's yours as soon as you get going. Take it!" This extended version of "Hold the Line" was epic. Luke soared just as high on the guitar as Amy did vocally.
It was also great to see "Manuela Run" played live. This number sung by Paich is from the self titled Toto debut "Toto". This record, if you can believe it, is 35 years old next year. "St. George and the Dragon" follows right behind "Manuela" as it's off of "Hydra" and will be 35 years old the following year. It was great to hear songs that aren't always played live in a typical Toto set. It was appreciated more by the long time Toto fans.
Not to be forgotten would be Simon Phillips. His amazing crystal clear Tama drum kit was absolutely stunning. It sounded even better than it looked which is hard to believe. The rock solid, steady drumming of Phillips combined with the effortless playing of East made this ship run smoother than silk. It's hard to think of another rhythm combination that could top these two cats.
In speaking about childhood friend,Joseph Williams Luke reminisced about hanging out at the Williams' house. Joseph's father is John Willams the World famous musical conductor and composer. Williams is most known for his famous movie scores including E.T and Jaws. Luke said it was weird hanging with Joseph at his house because when they were there they would hear odd noises from downstairs (as Luke mimicked the instantly recognizable eerie intro to Jaws) and Mr. Williams would say "Joseph you need to be quiet I can't work". Joseph got in on the fun too as he assisted Steve Porcaro on keyboards. Williams was playing on Porcaro's keys at the same time as Porcaro. At one point there were three Toto members playing keyboards.
I sat directly in front of Brian Ball from Ernie Ball Guitars. When I turned and said to him nice guitar referring to the Luke signature Ernie Ball model Brian immediately shot back with "the guitarist is even better!" He may have been right. Nobody went home from this gig disappointed. As it was a wonderful roller coaster ride with Toto. From driving, hard rocking numbers with searing guitar to beautiful soulful ballads. As the band came back for an encore Luke joked "did we forget something?" He was referring to "Africa" a song that was known by EVERY single person in the house. As the night closed the venue allowed anyone who wanted to come up for a closer look right in front of the stage to do so. As the crowd rushed towards the stage Luke encouraged the crowd to join in on the all too familiar Toto songs. I talked to Luke after the show and he said "I had fun! It was a nice way to start the U.S.A. again. Sold out and Amy Keys first night was STELLAR! No rehearsal. Amazing really. I wished we could have played a full set. But it is what it is."
Stevelukather.com, September 13th 2012