From yesterday’s live concert with Toto at Sofiero, the gorgeous park in Helsingborg where the band 10cc warmed up and Steve Lukather – with a mostly new set of memebers – took us on a sweet musical nostalgia trip that lasted well into the beautiful, late summer evening (about 11:00 p.m.).
I noticed that the majority of the audience was around my age (59) and that there were probably about the same amount of he, she, and hen at the lush park. In a few days, Toto will play at Partille Arena in a suburb of Gothenburg. What a contrast!
I’ve seen Toto live a few times at different venues and although the sound could have been better, yesterday’s concert was still a worthwhile experience. I rarely listen to them these days, but Toto has clearly played a significant role in my musical life. Especially as the band’s original troupe appears as instrumentalists and producers on hundreds of other artists’ records. The fact is, Lukather, for example, has contributed his talent on albums recorded by Barbra Streisand, Michael McDonald, John Mayall, Ted Gärdestad, Elton John, Alice Cooper, Warren Zevon, Stevie Nicks, Joni Mitchell. Spinal Tap, Roger Waters and Eric Clapton.
Back in the 1980s, a group of friends and I often got together before a night out in Gothenburg, and not too infrequently, we’d play air instruments to “99”, “English Eyes”, and “You are the Flower”. And even if our lives developed in different directions and we individually discovered new musical inspiration and genres to devour, to this today, Toto’s earliest songs and other artists from the “Westcoast” genre are a recurring topic in our WhatsApp group.
Yesterday it was fun to hear a really funky iteration of George Porgy, in my opinion, one of the band’s grooviest tunes. Last night’s playlist was sprawling and offered many Toto classics, but also some surprises, including a slightly weird tribute to former members and a somewhat oddball tribute to…James Brown. Sadly, there were no tracks from the band’s third LP “Turn Back” and only White Sister from Hydra made the show’s setlist.
Presumably, many of us fans were at Sofiero to see and listen to Steve “Luke” Lukather and to a lesser extent hear if Joseph Williams’ pipes still held up. And both delivered as they always have. Lukather with his typical sound, delicious licks, heavy riffs, and stylish solos. I think Lukather is just as sharp, energetic, and humorous as a 64-year-old as I remember him on October 1st, 1982 at the Johanneshov ice stadium when he as a 25-year old was on tour with Toto for the record Toto IV with Bobby Kimball on lead vocals. Incidentally, Kimball had broken his foot or leg before the gig and sat at the piano during the entire performance. In some strange way, it feels comforting that Toto is still touring. It was like Steve Lukather said yesterday just before the band’s encore if they don’t go on tour, who the hell is going to play their songs?
Admittedly, Toto has produced a lot of turkeys, tunes that don’t move me in the slightest. But that’s normal. It’s part of the creative process – regardless of what you do. You just have to give birth to a few turkeys to allow a shiny pearl or two to bubble up to the surface – if I may mix metaphors wildly.
But the musical skill, the “craftsmanship” and the ability to create beautiful written and performed melodic pop and “rock” cannot be taken away from the members of Toto. Neither in the current incarnation nor the original 1977 set with Jeff Porcaro, David Hungate, Steve Porcaro, Bobby Kimball, and Steve Lukather.
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