Missing Persons kicked off the days show in the still devastating heat at about 4:45pm. Not only are these festivals fun for the fans they are fun for the artists as well. They get to see friends they haven't seen in awhile from other bands and get to see acts play live that they don't normally get to see. Simon Phillips (d) and Joseph Williams of Toto (v) were perched on the second level stage right looking directly down on Missing Persons. Due to the short amount of time given to each act the sets tend to be hit heavy. This edition of Missing Persons included Prescott Niles from the Knack playing bass. Dale Bozzio changed up the words on the Missing Persons song "I like Boys" to I like Jack in a nod to Jack FM. She also said to the crowd "I hope this sounds as good as it did 32 years ago!". Missing Persons ended their short set with "Destination Unknown/Walking in L.A." morphing into each other as they ran out of time. Dale and Company braved the heat as they were dealt the worst of it if you don't include the crews who were there all day setting up.
Gin Blossoms were up next and they caught a break as the sun began to set. Their even keeled set rose up at the end as they played the toe tappin' hits "Hey Jealousy" and "Found Out About You". These songs had the crowd up and then lead singer Robin Wilson ran out into the crowd to further energize the already upbeat Irvine fans.
One nice element of the Jack FM setup was its rotating stages. The stage is circular in design. Each stage is a half circle. When one act is finished the next bands stage is already set up directly behind the prior bands stage. With a few minor hook ups and equipment set ups the next act is almost ready to rock.
As the stage turned to reveal MC Hammer there was nary a musical instrument or musician anywhere to be seen. It was now all about glitz and entertainment. It may have been "Hammer Time" but it sure wasn't musician time. The set kicked off when the sound man hit play. As Hammer entered he was surrounded by a dozen or so dancers. He did bring the energy level up a notch again and the brought it up even more as he paraded his entourage through the crowd.
As the stage rotated 180 degrees to reveal the Toto set in reality the stage setup also did a 180 degree turn. Beginning with Simons' monstrous drum kit, David Paich and Steve Porcaro's pianos and keyboards, Luke and Nathan East's guitars and basses, shakers and maracas it looked like a music store exploded and landed on stage. Especially compared to Hammers' barren set. Toto was limited to nine songs so the choice of songs was more important than usual. Other than Simon showing the crowd his skills for a mini mini drum solo and Luke's usual guitar work during the framework of the song there were no real solo's. Even at the bottom of he set list it said "Police your soloing". As I watched the show only a few rows from the stage I noticed Neil Giraldo stage left watching the show. Giraldo is the husband and guitar player of Pat Benatar. He was watching the entire band but was focused primarily on Luke. He even gave Luke an encouraging nod and head shake when Luke came to the side of the stage with guitar issues. Neil watched almost the entire set even though he was up next. His equipment was directly behind Toto's and ready to start rotating towards the crowd as soon as Toto's set was done.
As this was not a "Toto" crowd" they were even more unfamiliar with the history and songs of Toto than your average crowd. As Luke began to explain the connection to the next song Michael Jackson's "Human Nature", most were unaware and this was news to them. Luke then explained that Keyboard Player Steve Porcaro had written the song and he, David Paich and brother Jeffrey Porcaro had all played on it. Luke pointed and looked up to the heavens when he mentioned Jeff's name. As the band started playing "Human Nature" shock, surprise, smiles, joy and excitement all emanated from the 12,000 or so in the Amphitheatre. EVERYONE knew the song but only a handful knew the history of the song. It was great that Toto threw a nod to their fans who were at this show specifically to see them. The nod was "Manuela Run" off their debut self titled Toto album which celebrates it's 35th Birthday next year. Vocalist Amy Keys brought the house down just as she did two days ago in her first show with Toto up north in the Santa Barbara area. She sent spine chilling vocals throughout the JACK FM crowd on the heavy rotation song on their station "Hold the Line". She wowed the crowd as she traded vocal jabs with lead singer Joseph Williams. Whatever technical and equipment problems that went on for a moment earlier in the show were forgotten long, long ago especially when Toto came out for their encore of "Africa". As they had earlier on "Rosanna" the crowd sang EVERY word to "Africa". Other songs in the set included opener "Only the Children", "Pamela", "Hold You Back" and "Still Loving You."
Following Toto's set was Pat Benatar/Neil Giraldo. They have been married for 30 years and playing music together for almost exactly as long as Toto at 34 years. Giraldo might have gotten inspiration from Luke from watching his set. He watched their set intently. Giraldo was on fire from right out of the box. Their smokin' hot set was loaded hith hard driving hits. Benatar sounded great the entire set. Pat told the crowd that they had been Touring with Journey and Loverboy and that tonight was an "off night". The "Irvine Meadows" crowd was quite appreciative that they spent their off night from an extremley sucessful Tour to spend it with them. Luke had said earlier "I have a hard time calling this place anything else other than "Irvine Meadows" as it had been called that for decades. Neil acknowledged Toto in front of the crowd as he told them it was great to see his freinds in Toto.The highlights of their set included "You Better Run", "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" and "Heartbreaker." The multi talented Giraldo started off "Promises in the Dark" on piano with his guitar still strapped on. Before he completely stood up after the piano intro he started playing his guitar in a cool segue. Giraldo later morphed Benatar's "Heartbreaker" into Led Zeppelin's "Heartbreaker" to the sheer enjoyment of the fans.
Joe Walsh ended the days activities with a FM Rock Radio listeners dream come true. Pulling songs from James Gang, Walsh solo and the Eagles. High lights of the set were "Turn to Stone", "Walk Away", "Life in the Fast Lane", "In the City" and the newly released with an important message "Analog Man". Analog Man probably hit straight to the heart of the Toto boys. Walsh also played a Luke favorite in the James Gang song "The Bomber". Luke covered that classic number on his album "Candyman". Long time Walsh drummer Drew Hester anchored down a rockin', rock solid band. The band had two drummers which is two more than MC Hammer had. It was also cool to see Simon Phillips enjoying some of Walsh's set. But it was "Rock School" time as Luke's son Trevor took in almost the entire set of the elder statesman from Cleveland, Ohio. Walsh who ALWAYS has a blast on stage said to the crowd "do you remember when this was Lion Country?" (referring to the Irvine Theme Park that closed there in 1984). He then said "I remember when a Lion ate a drunk guy!"
I talked to David Paich before the Show and he said how much he was looking forward to the day's gig. When I told him how much I enjoyed the Chumash Casino gig he said "It was fun. Other than a couple of minor flubs it was great. But hey it's Rock 'n' Roll!" I talked to Drew Hester of Joe Walsh's band after the Show and he said how much he enjoyed seeing Luke and the Toto guys. Prescott Niles told me "I am friends with Steve and Trevor. It was great to see them and see Toto." Prescott enjoyed all the bands as he watch some of every act after his opening set with Missing Persons was over.
As I write this review 12 hours after the Show my ears are still ringing. But it was well worth it seeing so many fans and musicians having so much fun. But not to be forgotten was that this was an event to raise money and awareness for Autism.
Stevelukather.com, September 15th 2012