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Toto

Live in Milwaukee, WI, July 2006

Review by Greg Olma

I can't believe that with all of the concerts I've attended, this is my first Toto show. Part of that is their fault. I can't remember the last time they were in Chicago (or surrounding area) but it has to be at least 10 years. I will give them credit though for not being part of some retro package tour where the aging rockers dust off their hits for one more go around. Although Toto has their share of hits, they did not rest on past glories. They bravely opened up the show with a couple of new tunes off their latest (and one of the greatest) CD Falling In Between. The title track and "King Of the World" were very well received by the crowd, who probably didn't know the songs. Right away, you could tell that this wasn't a band that needed warming up. They played both tunes perfectly. Before launching into another cut from Falling In Between, they slipped in a bit of an old-y; 1988's "Pamela" off of The Seventh One. I forgot how many great songs the band has in the arsenal. "Bottom Of Your Soul" was next and again, they sounded spot on. As I watched the show, I was amazed at how tight the band was. Even though each member is at the top of their game, it's the talents of all the musicians that make a Toto concert a special event.

The boys knew that they would have to play some of their hits, so after the new material, they played "Make Believe" which slipped into "Hold The Line." Both songs were recorded many years apart but they fit together nicely. To add a different dimension to the show (not that it needed it), a small acoustic set was played. Tony Spinner sang a little different version of "Stop Loving You." It was great to hear some of the songs mixed up a bit. I'm also glad that they threw in a couple of deep cuts next. They played "I'll Be Over You" from Fahrenheit and "Cruel" from Mindfields. I'm sure it's difficult to pick a set list because the hits have to be played but it was really nice to have these lesser known songs played, too. I watched Steve Lukather most of the show and I was amazed at how effortlessly he was able to switch gears from rock to jazz to acoustic guitar. He truly is one of the best players out there.


Greg Olma
 
Greg Olma
   
After that brief acoustic set, Greg Phillinganes started off "Rosanna" but this wasn't the studio version. It began with a bit of jazzy arrangement before it settled into its more familiar form. I'm sure that the band gets tired of playing the same songs, the same way, so that new version kept it interesting for not only the band but also us; the listeners.

After some funny band introductions, "I Won't Hold You Back" was played. The vocal harmonies during the chorus were perfect. Before I knew it, they were back where it all started with "Girl Goodbye." Bobby Kimball sounded great throughout the whole evening but especially during this track. I haven't mentioned them before but I have to give a bit of praise to the unsung heroes; the rhythm section. Not only did Mike Porcaro and Simon Phillips lay down a solid beat, they were also able to inject a bit of subtle finesse to help create that special Toto sound.


Greg Olma
 
Greg Olma
   
The last song of the night "Home Of the Brave" was dedicated to our troops. Being that the show was the following weekend after the US's Independence Day, it seemed even more appropriate to close the set with that song. Now, I knew that they had to come out for an encore for two reasons; one, the crowd loved every minute of the show, and two, they had to play "Africa." The audience demanded it and Toto did not disappoint. If you watched closely, the band was enjoying themselves even though they have probably performed this hit a thousand times before. Seeing the crowd's reaction during the whole evening, it was clear that a great evening of music was had by all.

Greg Olma
 
Greg Olma
   
This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.
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