Classic rock band Toto made their long awaited return to the North Coast on Wednesday, August 31st at the Hard Rock Rocksino.
After opening the show with the instrumental “Child’s Anthem” and their second hit single “I’ll Supply the Love” from their debut album, guitarist Steve Lukather commented that he couldn’t believe how long it’s been since the band last played Cleveland. Long time fans remember the last local show the band played was at Peabody’s in 1992.
Twenty four years is a long time for any band to miss playing a major city. However, Toto more than made up for their extended absence by playing 20 songs in their two hour set.
Original members Lukather, David Paich (piano, vocals) and Steve Porcaro (keys) and long time vocalist Joe Williams were backed by stellar musicians. Legendary bassist Leland Sklar held down the low end while percussionist Lenny Castro and drummer Shannon Forrest kept the beat. They were joined by two great backup singers Jenny Douglas-Foote and Mabvuto Carpenter.
The band is out supporting their latest release Toto XIV. The five songs from that album fit in nicely as they sprinkled them throughout the set.
Lukather also mentioned that Toto played the Agora on their first tour in 1978. The now sober guitarist quipped “They tell me that I had a good time.” He then dedicated a funky version “Georgy Porgy” to his friend Maurice White from Earth Wind and Fire that passed away earlier this year.
Long time friends David Paich and Joe Williams were having fun on stage as both men were playing some mean air guitar at the beginning of “Afraid of Love.”
Williams’ voice is in fine form as he got to take the spotlight on several songs including one of his first hits “Pamela,” from The Seventh One album.
Paich also got to take the spotlight for an extended piano solo. He started the show by wearing his trademarked top hat, but then switched to a Cleveland Indians cap after a few songs. He said he was going to make another wardrobe change by putting his top hat back on but the crowd flooded him with boos. To which he replied “What a great game last night! I love this town!” which got the crowd cheering again as he kept the Indians cap on.
Lukather’s turn in the spotlight saw the virtuoso play a beautiful version of Robin Trower’s “Bridge of Sighs.” Afterwards he mentioned how the band had to practice all the time in order to get good, remembering that Jeff Porcaro had already recorded with Steely Dan before Toto was even formed. He then scoffed “Then MTV came along and fucked it up for us!”
The opening piano riff of “Hold the Line” got the near capacity crowd on its feet and they stayed there until the set closing and 1983 Record of the Year “Rosanna” was played.
After a brief exit, the band encored with a medley of “On the Run” and “Goodbye Elenore.” They closed the show with and extended version of their number one hit “Africa.”
Toto is a great band full of excellent musicians. The next time they come to town, be sure to check them out. Let’s just hope it isn’t another 24 years before they appear again.