Toto Hammersmith Apollo 26-05-15
I last saw Toto back in 2011 and I will be honest found them a little flat.
Here in 2015 with the release of their fantastic new cd XIV and the return of some past band members I made the trip into London full of hope for the last of four shows in the UK that have kickstarted the band's world tour.
And it was fully justified with Toto proving to any doubters that they are right back at the top of the game.
For 2 hours and 10 minutes we were treated to 5 new songs from XIV and a wonderful cross section of favourites from their near 40 year career.
Here is what they played.
Running Out Of Time
I'll Supply The Love
Stranger In Town
I Won't Hold You Back
Hold The Line
Takin' It Back
Bottom Of Your Soul
Caught In the Balance
Without Your Love/Little Wing
The Road Goes On
On The Run/Child's Anthem/Goodbye Elenore
With an excellent sound and light show everyone of the 9 performers on stage made their mark on the evening.
David Hungate has returned on bass after a 34 year absence and also for the first time on stage with the band in 20 years is legendary percussionist Lenny Castro.Both were simply stunning with Lenny's near telepathic understanding with touring drummer Shannon Forrest mesmerising and this was only show four on the tour.
Flanking the stage was David Paich on keys and vocals and on the other side was Steve Porcaro also on keys and vocals.
Backing vocals and the occasional solo spot was provided by Jenny Douglas and Mabvuto Carpenter who help fill in all the gaps vocally and some added percussion too.
At the front we had Joseph Williams on vocals who was superb and of course the man who has kept Toto ticking along for may years the incomparable Steve Lukather on guitar and vocals.
First song and straight into the new album with Running Out Of Time with it's driving drum pattern which shows Forrest's powerhouse style off to a tee.From the amount of people joining Williams on the chorus the new album has gone down a storm and all of the 5 songs played deserve their place in the Toto archive.
With the added backing vocals and percussion the sound from the stage was an audio soundscape from heaven.So full and deep it makes you wonder why more bands don't do it.
Burn from it's slow piano and drum beginning builds and builds and William's gets the chance to show off his range on a song that really exploded on the chorus with the light show adding dramatic effect too.Plenty of woah woah's from the crowd on the extended chorus.
With Toto you have plenty of vocalist's with Piach taking the lead on Stranger In Town,Porcaro on Takin' It Back and Lukather on I Won't Hold You Back.He asked for some help on the chorus as he had been suffering with sore throat and in fact Bottom Of Your Soul had William's on lead vocals to give Lukather a break!
Hold The Line was moved from it's usual encore position to earlier in the set and when the familiar big guitar riff kicked in the crowd went nuts.Jenny Douglas came to the front of the stage and duetted with William's on an all time classic song.Superb guitar solo from Lukather too.
Without Your Love led into an extended guitar solo from Lukather and it showed that one day all solo's will be played like this. With a band accompaniment he played his version of Jimi Hendrix's Little Wing that was simply wonderful.4 minutes of poise,passion and a control of notes that built and built to a crescendo that led to an explosion of noise from the crowd and a standing ovation and that was also from the hairs on my neck too!!Wow!
Another new song in Orphan had Carpenter joining William's in the lead vocal on a song that again builds from a piano and vocal start.
The Road Goes On was played as a tribute to sadly departed pair Mike and Jeff Pocaro and also Fergie Frederiksen and Lukather's vocal was drowned out by the crowd who also added woah woah's where required too.Lukather swopped from acoustic to electric and played a perfect solo on a song where band and crowd were joined as one.Brilliant.
Great Expectations from XIV was everything I hoped it would be.In seven minutes it had it all.From a piano and Williams vocal start the song builds with huge swathes of keys,big guitar riffs all over Forrest's and Castro's rhythm's and it continues with time changes a major feature.The light show played it's part as the song ebbs and flows with everything but the kitchen sink thrown in!!Superb.
Into the last few songs and Rosanna ended the set in style with plenty of crowd participation vocally and clapping at will.Just a great song and such a groove live with a Paich extended piano section and guitar solo nailed by Lukather showing us his shredding credentials and some serious percussion overload as it ended.
We caught our breath before the encores as did the band and On The Run was just wonderful.All big keys and guitar riffs over Forrest's drive and more crowd participation.
White Sister from a slow beginning built to Lukather's extended soloing and the rest of the band playing like their lives depended on it.Anyone who think's Toto are just an AOR band listen to that ending.
Africa was extended to a musical tour de force with plenty of crowd singalong's and the biggest chorus ever.Castro did an amazing percussion display that took the breath away before a band and crowd crescendo with Lukather again showing us his chops.
Quite simply one of the best shows I have ever been too in over 30 years of gig going.
There was a real joy of playing together and being on stage that goes right back to High School nearly 40 years ago and a real connection with the crowd that was magical.
Re energised and revitalised if Toto play in a city near you do yourself a favour and go along as you would miss a treat!