The shock was great among the fans of TOTO, when the band announced to stop in 2019. Steve Lukather and Joseph Williams happily announced their new band, The Dogz of Oz, exactly one year later. Without David Paich, without Steve Porcaro. Well, TOTO stopped once before, and always came back stronger, but still, without Paich and the last Porcaro? A livestream concert had remained The Dogz of Oz’s only real achievement and the band (possibly after better negotiations about the rights of the band name) finally announced another tour under the name TOTO; The Dogz of Oz tour.
The European tour of the renewed TOTO, Steve Lukather and Joseph Williams, complemented by top artists such as bassist John Pierce (Huey Lewis and The News), drummer Robert ‘Sput’ Searight (Ghost-Note, Snarky Puppy, Snoop Dogg), keyboardists Steve Maggiora (Robert Jon & The Wreck) and Dominique ‘Xavier’ Taplin (Prince, Ghost-Note) and percussionist/saxophonist Warren Ham (Ringo Starr), started in Tilburg. Two evenings in a sold-out 013 kicked off what was a clear relief for many fans. TOTO was back.
Since 1977, Lukather and Williams have toured the world with TOTO almost every year. A great honor for 013 to host the official start of the European tour. Together with The Rolling Stones and U2, TOTO is one of the most important three rock bands of the last 50 years. Hits like ‘Africa’, ‘Rosanna’, ‘Pamela’, ‘Stop loving you’ and ‘Hold the Line’ have been sung word for word by everyone who hears the songs on the radio or live since release. And rightly so, because TOTO’s hits are and remain timeless.
In Tilburg it became a timeless show, with hits from yesteryear. Only show-opener ‘Orphan’, taken from ‘TOTO XIV’ from 2015 was a fairly recent song, but for the rest TOTO went back to their extensive oeuvre of more than 40 years and about 20 successful albums. Still, for the most part, Lukather and his men went back to the first 11 years, the albums ‘TOTO’ (The wonderfully newly arranged ‘Georgy Porgy’, ‘Hold the Line’ and ‘You Are the Flower), ‘TOTO IV’ ( ‘Africa’, ‘I Won’t Hold You Back’, ‘Rosanna’ and ‘Waiting for Your Love’) and ‘The Seventh One’ (‘Home of the Brave’, ‘Pamela’, ‘Stop Loving You’). Indeed the band’s debut, fourth and seventh album. Yes, definitely the period of success, supplemented with ‘White Sister’ by ‘Hydra’ and ‘I’ll be over you’ by Fahrenheit’, from the same period. If you add ‘Kingdom of Desire’ from the 1992 album of the same name, you know that the band played a top set.
The easy thing about TOTO is that no matter what they play, the audience knows the songs anyway. Loudly the entire audience sang along, and enjoyed the razor-sharp guitar solos of Steve Lukather. What was striking was that even after 45 years Joseph Williams was still masterly in voice. The astonishing drumming of Sput, including a James Brownesque solo, may even (and that’s starting to look like curses in church) be called more fitting for TOTO than the drumming of the already gifted Simon Philips. The experimental jazzy background that Sput acquired with Snarky Puppy may well usher in a new era for TOTO. Supplemented by the keyboard playing of Dominique Taplin (who later comes to the Netherlands together with Sput with Snarky Puppy spinoff Ghost-Note), TOTO seems musically on the way back to the successful early era. Together with bassist John Pierce, who did not make Michael Porcaro forget, but certainly approached him, TOTO sounded refreshing and strong.
Of course, closing with the biggest hits ‘Rosanna’ and ‘Afrika’, TOTO left Tilburg without any real encore, but with a memory of a concert that could only have been better if, for example, David Paich would have played along. But that would have been the absolute pinnacle, you can only dream of that.
Photos (c) Bart Teunis