Rock royalty Toto, on November 21st 2020 gave fans an antidote to lockdown: a pay-per-view concert by which was recorded and is about to be released. This nostalgia-fest is a walk through history as the band celebrate live, their extensive back catalogue. Co-founder Steve Lukather and longtime singer Joseph Williams are joined by bassist John Pierce (Huey Lewis and the News), drummer Robert “Sput” Searight (Snarky Puppy) and keyboardist Steve Maggiora (Robert Jon and the Wreck). Returning from Toto’s most recent incarnation are keyboardist Dominique “Xavier” Taplin (Prince) and multi-instrumentalist Warren Ham (a bandmate of Lukather’s in Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band). Lukather’s fellow co-founding Toto member David Paich is also a featured guest on the title providing song, With a Little Help From My Friends.
Although the band has gone through nearly as many line-up changes as Purple and Yes but together (well, nearly!) the one constant has been the six-string maestro Steve Lukather. His dedication and musicianship has kept the band alive and, importantly, relevant throughout…although he has also found time to release some very good solo albums; search Bluesdoodles for reviews. Steve sums it up better than I: [the goal is to]”bring the past Toto to the present and beyond, and this first look at the new lineup sets the stage for a chapter in our history we can’t wait to write.”
The future looks good then! Mr Lukather and, provided the world has recovered from the pandemic, there is an extensive tour of Europe planned for 2022.
The new album benefits from a first-class recording quality and the band revel in the music, ably backed up by a brass section and backing vocalists. The best bit is that the chosen sings aren’t just a ‘greatest hits’…sure we get Hold The Line done with panache (after an introduction of ”we play this next song for you because we have to”) and a truly inspired guitar solo. We get Rosanna, also done with a bit more energy and bite than the single plus they are obviously enjoying themselves; particularly during the choruses, you can hear the smiles. The beauty of it is the extended run-time as the seven minutes gives space for more lovely toned guitar solos and a dissonant, clever and enjoyable piano solo. Pamela (“a song about a girl who was unkind to me”) and I Won’t Hold You Back that both get pleasing refreshes and show that lockdown didn’t lessen the instrumental skills of all concerned, but especially Steve “Luke” Lukather who adds brilliant flourishes while maintaining the structure of all the songs.
Other highlights are a brilliant update on Kingdom Of Desire, nine and a half minutes of White Sister with the great piano introduction and more genius from ‘Luke’. The finale of With A Little Help from My Friends is way better than the last live version…and Joseph is on peak form as he pours the emotion (and a bit of Joe Cocker) into the verses (as the backing singers do on the chorus…you will be joining in). The track called band introductions, is just that, as we get three minutes plus of intro’s and amusing anecdotes…even though it only works once.
OK, there isn’t anything unheard but, for me at least, there is enough ‘newness’ in these re-covers that it is more than worth a listen as the next chapter of Toto begins. A definite for existing Toto fans and a nice starting point if you’ve only heard the big hits.
Bluesdoodles rating: 4 Doodle Paws – a wonderful live album capturing a band on form doing ‘not just the hits’.
1. Till The End
2. Hold The Line
4. Kingdom of Desire
5. White Sister
6. You Are The Flower
7. I Won’t Hold You Back
8. Stop Loving You
9. Band Introductions
10. Home of the Brave
12. With A Little Help From My Friends
Released via The Players Club/Mascot Records on June 25th: Alongside LP pressings of the audio-only, both a CD/DVD and CD/Blu-ray package are available with documentary footage on the DVD.
2022 tour dates:
14 July, 2022 Bonn, Germany KunstRasen
15 July, 2022 Amsterdam, Netherlands Ziggodome
16 July, 2022 Halle, Germany Peißnitzinsel
19 July, 2022 Pratteln, Switzerland Z-7 Summer Nights
20 July, 2022 Tussling, Germany Schlossplatz
21 July, 2022 Middelkerke, Belgium Proximus Pop-Up Arena
23 July, 2022 Vitrolles, France Festival Jardin Sonore
28 July, 2022 Schwetzingen, Germany Schlossgarten
29 July, 2022 Graz, Austria Messe Open Air
31 July, 2022 Warsaw, Poland Torwar
10 August, 2022 Helsingborg, Sweden Sofiero Castle
11 August, 2022 Viborg, Denmark Paradepladsen
13 August, 2022 Copenhagen, Denmark Royal Arena
14 August, 2022 Gothenburg, Sweden Partille Arena
(iTunes decided it was time for some ‘Moves Of Vegetable Centuries’ the strangely named album from British Blues band, Tramline. this band included none other than Micky Moody in his first recording band after his previous band The Wildflowers (with fellow Middlesbrough man Paul Rodgers on vocals) returned home from London without a contract…the rest is history! This is a fine second album from a short lived but quality band.)