Monday, August 15, 2016
I have learned over the years that there seems to be no middle ground when it comes to Toto ... you either like 'em ... or you don't. (OK, I'm being polite here ... perhaps more accurately, you either love 'em ... or you hate 'em.)
I've never really understood why their impeccable musicianship would be held against them when the band decided to team up, step outside the recording studio as crackerjack session men, and strike out on their own.
Every one of these guys is a five-star player ... and, between 1979 and 1988 they placed a dozen songs in Billboard's Top 50 ... including Classic Rock Staples like "Hold The Line" (#5, 1979); "Rosanna" (#2, 1982); "Africa (#1, 1983); "I Won't Hold You Back" (#10, 1983) and ""I'll Be Over You" (#11, 1986).
Now it's true that after literally sweeping the Grammys in 1983 with their "Toto IV" album ("Rosanna" also won the coveted Record Of The Year Award), they never again attained quite the accolades afforded them for this fine album ... but once again it seemed like their latest major success was held against them by the Toto haters of the world. (By the same token, Toto featured selections from their latest LP, "Toto XIV", Saturday Night, too, and I couldn't help but wonder if anybody noticed ... ten new albums since they raised the bar with Toto "IV", and yet virtually NO airplay whatsoever on the new material ... it must be the complete diehards that are keeping the Toto Train above water. That [and of course] complete non-stop airplay of their earlier hits thanks to Classic Rock Radio!)
We were REALLY looking forward to their show at The Arcada Theatre Saturday ... Frannie has been a fan since Day One ... and our band even took a crack at "Hold The Line" back in the day ... although we never even came CLOSE to capturing the vocal of Bobby Kimball (who is no longer with the band.)
Toto played to a full house of Toto fans ... and I promise there wasn't a "Toto hater" among them ... in fact, I can honestly say that I don't think I've EVER seen a band go over as well at an Arcada show before. Fans were on their feet from the very first note ... and stayed there for most of the remainder of the evening, cheering, whistling and screaming at nearly every note. I've never seen a more loyal, devoted and appreciative audience.
Toto did a two hour set, kicking off with the opening tracks from their very first LP, "Child's Anthem" which segues right into "I'll Supply The Love". (Frannie couldn't have been more thrilled ... when I asked her what she thought they would start with she answered "Well, what they SHOULD start with is the opening two tracks from their very first album" ... so when they did, she was absolutely blown away.)
The band was in fine form, both musically and vocally and most of the hits were presented. (They didn't do "Make Believe", "99" or "I'll Be Over You", all Top 30 Hits ... but did a very jazzy and soulful version of "Georgy Porgy" that spotlighted their two black background singers which once again showed the depths of their music talent to cross over to different genres of music, apparently something else the rock critics struggled with because they could pigeonhole them into one genre of music. Truth is, the guys were simply too talented to be nailed down to any one style of music.)
I will admit that I'm not familiar with the complete Toto catalog and some of their deep album tracks, which seemed to occupy the entire middle of their set, many with very long, extended (and, in my opinion, self-indulgent) solos ... but I would also be the first to say that my feelings must have been in the minority in this regard because the audience responded as loudly and as enthusiastically as I've ever seen to each and every song performed Saturday night. (Toto is used to playing to huge, sold out arenas around the world ... so bringing their stage show to the small but friendly confines of The Arcada Theatre was a HUGE step for them ... but I'll tell you what ... I guarantee you that they WILL be back ... by choice ... because I don't know that they've ever played to a more responsive and appreciative audience. They fed off the audience nearly as much as the audience fed off of them.)
Again, being completely honest, ('cause that's kinda my job here when I do a review!), I will say that Toto put on a great show ... now, eliminate the middle 40 minutes of the set (where I didn't recognize a single song) and I'd raise that rating to an OUTSTANDING show ... possibly even being worth of our coveted Best Show of 2016 Award ... they were that good. Even Frannie, a FAR bigger Toto fan than me, could only give the show a "6" overall ... that long segment of unfamiliar material lost us. I would agree with that rating. Blocking out the middle 40, we'd easily raise that score to a 9 or a 10 ... perhaps something the band should think about the next time they evaluate their set list. (Pop in a little more of the familiar material to mix things up a little bit ... my guess is you'll retain the momentum and keep the entire audience with you every step of the way.) kk
Thanks Frannie, for all of the above pix!
And to Luciano Bilotti for these professional shots below ...