The Roots Report: Toto at Twin River

MICOkee dokee folks… I went to Twin River in Lincoln the other night to check out the band Toto. There was a nearly full house in attendance and from the looks of the array of Toto t-shirts I saw folks wearing, a lot of big fans. I cannot be counted as a big fan. I am a casual listener, but I do enjoy a few of their songs. The lights went down right at 8pm and the backing band members took the stage and rocked a bit before the actual members of Toto — Steve Lukathar, David Paich, Steve Porcaro and Joseph Williams — arrived on stage. They launched into the song, “Only The Children.” Surprisingly, the second song was their debut hit “Hold The Line.” That brought the audience to their feet and they sang along encouraged by lead singer, Joseph Williams. They played three more songs, “Afraid of Love,” “Lovers in the Night” and “Pamela” before I recognized the “lite rock” favorite “I’ll Be Over You.” Williams encouraged fans to light up their phones and wave them in the air. The next song, “Chinatown,” was introduced as originally being written for the Toto I album, but over the years it was re-written and rearranged for the Toto XIV album. They talked about a recently discovered video that they came across of the band performing in Montreux and it inspired them to perform their version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Red House.” This featured a fiery guitar solo by Steve Lukathar.

They introduced the band at this point, Lenny Castro (percussion), Warren Ham (saxophone), Shannon Forres (drums) and Shem von Schroeck (bass). I thought that the bass player looked familiar and they mentioned that he had just joined them three days before the tour and was just off of the Don Felder tour (that I saw a few months ago at Twin River). They introduced Joseph Williams with a bit of the music from Jaws, as his father is the famed conductor/composer John Williams. During his introduction, it was mentioned that David Paich wrote most of the songs on Boz Scaggs Silk Degrees album, and the band played a short, spot-on version of “Lowdown.” After that, Lukathar claimed that the rumors about him hating the next song were not true and the song was not about Barbara Feldon’s part on “Maxwell Smart.” “99” was that song. The legendary Jimmy Webb was credited as a co-writer on their next number, “Home Of The Brave.” During this song I witnessed a guy in the row in front of me try three times unsuccessfully to have his photo taken with the band playing in the background. What made it funny was the “devil horn” hand gestures he was making. Now, the next song, for ME, was cringe-worthy, for everyone else they were thrilled. The early ’80s had “Rosanna” playing non-stop on “lite” radio. They played an extended version of the song. The band redeemed themselves to me with the next number, “I’ll Supply the Love.” That was the end of the show.

The band did not exit the stage; instead they said that they don’t believe in making the audience work for more and they know that they skipped a song. An extended version of “Africa” had the audience singing along, “I miss the rains down in Africa.” After 14 songs and about 95 minutes, the show was over. Over the loud speaker in the auditorium the announcer said, and I quote, “I hope that you enjoyed THE Totos…” That made me and quite a few others who caught it have a good laugh. It was accented by the theme song of “The Price Is Right” coming on right after. It may have been a “you had to be there” moment but it was pretty funny. Overall I enjoyed the show even though I was not a huge fan. The band was tight and they kept the show moving and entertaining. They didn’t linger and for the most part kept the hits coming. After almost 40 years and a few personnel changes, Toto can still pump out some good tunes.

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