Live Gig Report and Photos: Robert Cavuoto
Toto is one of those bands where there is more to them than meets ears. They have their share of monster radio hits from the 80s with songs like “Africa,” “Rosanna,” “Hold the Line,” and “Pamela;” but if you dig a little deeper into their illustrious catalogue you will find other amazing gems of equal value and worth to those chart busting hits. Those are the songs that the diehard fans came to hear tonight at the Town Hall Theater in New York by Steve Lukather [guitar/vocals], David Paich [keyboards/vocals], Steve Porcaro [keyboards], and Joseph Williams [lead vocals].
The band opened their sold out show with a trio of classics; “Child’ Anthem,” I’ll Supply the Love,” and “Stanger in this Town” which instantly got the fans excited. Nothing could be more perfect or impressive to kick the show off.
The connection that the fans felt to the band’s 37 year career spanning catalogue and its band members was instantaneous. The 1,500 people that filled the venue appeared to be all the band’s friends and family as everyone I spoke to was somehow “friends with the band!”
Many fans consider Toto a Prog band but I have always thought of them as an American rock band, because of Steve Lukather’s profound pyrotechnic guitar playing. That style of playing coupled with his monster tone allowed him to put on a tremendous guitar driven show that didn’t disappoint. Steve’s guitar work was particularly impressive on “Child’ Anthem” as well as on the Robin Trower cover; “Bridge of Sighs.”
During an interview with Steve prior to the show, we touched up his playing style, he told me, “I’ve carved out a niche for myself. I’m not trying to be the biggest, baddest, fastest gun in the West; that’s a young man’s game. I’m refining who I am and not looking to win the race as I’ve got off the mark. Once I started being myself then I connected with people.” Steve may be humble about his playing but fans of the guitarists were in awe by his soloing abilities tonight.
The band kept their fans breathless during their 2 hour set; hitting them with songs from almost every album. They were a jukebox band delivering all the songs in a highly entertaining fashion and how could they go wrong when performing; “Afraid of Love,” “I Won’t Hold You Back,” “Without Your Love,” and an energetic version of “Orphan.” The songs that brought down the house were “Rosanna,” and “Pamela.” David Paich told me, “The band is playing better than ever and were going to take the fans on a ride in the Toto Hot Tub Time Machine.”
In between playing piano and trading off on lead vocals, David was also the band’s storyteller, providing interesting insights into the song’s history. Before launching into “Hold the Line,” he shared that it was the first song he wrote for the band and had to barracked himself in his apartment for days to avoid an angry landlord trying to break the door down to get him to stop making noise” or how “Great Expectations” was a song that wrote to pay tribute to their musical heroes.” The fans appreciated the nuances and it accentuated the performances.
Joseph Williams vocal abilities have always impressed me from their Fahrenheit and Seventh One LPs, and tonight he delivered the goods handling the bulk of the lead vocal duties and background vocals. He is an entertaining and charismatic frontman.
The last song of the night was the one everyone had been waiting for. As the opening chords of “Africa” filled the venue, David took lead vocals to end the show. Judging by the resounding applause and fists in the air, there’s no doubt the audience got exactly what it wanted tonight – Rock n’ Roll memories.