Steve Lukather paused to introduce the current members of TOTO about two-thirds of the way through a very full show at the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in Annapolis, Maryland, on last Wednesday. And in so doing, he reminded a very happy crowd of the deep talents and resumes of the four principal members of TOTO.
Singer Joseph Williams, the son of legendary movie score composer John Williams, was the singing voice of Simba in the Lion King movie for “Hakuna Matata,” and Joseph gave the audience a taste of the song. Keyboard whiz Steve Porcaro wrote “Human Nature” for Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and he in turn dazzled the crowd with a sample of it. Keyboardist David Paich co-wrote many of TOTO’s most famous songs, and he was responsible for many famous melodies by Steely Dan, Boz Scaggs, and others.
Steve Lukather himself earlier tore through a searing guitar cover of “Red House” by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and he did so with passion and precision that elicited equally passionate cheers from the audience.
TOTO of course are TOTO because of the jazz fusion staples that have enjoyed perennial US airplay since their debut album in 1978, which saw the two Steves join forces with Paich and three other musicians, including late drummer Jeff Porcaro, to reinvent adult contemporary music. That debut album introduced radio to “Hold the Line,” which surfaced as the second song in the TOTO setlist last week to the utter delight of concert attendees. Joseph took lead vocals on the song with an enthusiastic crowd pleased to join him on the refrain, “Hold the line/love isn’t always on time.” During the song, Steve Lukather stretched his legs, roving the stage to crisscross behind Joseph until the time of his tremendous guitar bridge in the middle of the song.
Soon, everyone is clapping along to “Pamela” from TOTO’s 1988 album The Seventh One. That album featured Joseph on lead vocals, and he certainly owned its popular love song, hitting the high notes with effortless grace. TOTO soon play “Stop Loving You” from the same album, giving Steve Porcaro another opening to dazzle on keyboards. If Mr. Lukather and Joseph are the heart and soul of TOTO, then Steve is truly the brains of the band.
Toward the end of the set, TOTO played “Rosanna,” one of several hit singles from the enduring TOTO IV. The entirety of TOTO brightened the room for the song, written by David Paich, and David particularly beamed with pride as he elegantly weaved melodic piano throughout it. For an encore, David made a rare appearance on lead vocals for the show-stopping “Africa” while Joseph belted out that distinctive chorus. Also, the TOTO touring band distinguished itself nicely here. TOTO cannot perform “Africa” without those grandiose drums, and Lenny Castro and Shannon Forrest skillfully answered the call for percussion.
TOTO hold the line in Torrington, Connecticut, tonight, and they supply the love through a show on July 1 in Kansas. Then the band is off to Europe with a return to the United States with some California dates in late August. TOTO wrap their US tour on Sept. 16 in Atlantic City.
You’ve got to make it a priority to see the gents. Each brings an extraordinary and unique talent to the collective whole, and we are very lucky that they are in an active period after several breaks and flirtation with retirement. Bottom line: Go see TOTO!
Here are some more pictures of TOTO performing at the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts on June 14, 2017.