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Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow
21st May 2015

Ian Sutherland

ian sutherland


It's almost unbelievable that Toto, after a 38 year career with 35 million album sales and countless world tours, still have new ground to break but here they are in the plush Royal Concert Hall for their first ever show in Scotland.

It's the opening night of the world tour and the atmosphere is electric as the band launch into the rocking 'Running Out Of Time' from new album 'XIV'. First night glitches show themselves with the stage curtain hiding the band not quite dropping on cue but the professional and very, very high level of musicianship on the stage is immediately apparent.

Toto are not a band that are easy to define. Dismissed by some parts of the music press early in their career as faceless soft rock played by soulless session musicians they have a smooth, confident style and an unusual set up of a drummer AND a percussionist plus two keyboard players. The sound is superb but they refuse to sit in a pigeonhole and combine elements of soul, funk, jazz and even prog in their songs. However there is a rock core to what they do and it's not always a soft one.

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There is plenty of personality on stage too and everyone enjoys the smiles and dancing of top hat wearing keyboard player David Paich when he takes over the lead vocals. Vocals are a real strength for this band and while the sublime voice of Joseph Williams is the nominal lead singer five of the nine people on stage had a shot at singing lead at one point or another during the show. They have absolutely no problem recreating all those smooth harmonies in a live environment.

The real star of the show however is guitarist and the sole constant band member in all the various line ups over the decades Steve Lukather. Radiating a confident, cool swagger(despite the Hawiian style shirt) he dominated the stage, cajoling the audience to join in with the fun at every opportunity. His vocal contributions are part of the fabric of the band but he is considered by many to be one of the finest guitarists of his generation and it's impossible to argue on this performance.


He gave a total masterclass in how to play the instrument, adding dexterus twists and turns within the songs and then firing out fluid dynamic solos to take the intensity level up several notches. Much of his work got a special cheer from the audience but when he took an already super version of the smooth and jazzy 'Without Your Love' full of those trademark runs along the fretboard and merged it into his take on Hendrix's 'Little Wing' it was a few minutes of magic and brought probably the biggest cheer of the night from an enthusiastic crowd.

I was hugely impressed with the set list chosen by the band too. A heritage type act like Toto with a history full of hits often just stick to the obvious but not only did they include five songs from the excellent new album, but they reached into the depths of their back catalogue and thrilled the hardcore fans with the rarely played uptempo groove of 'Stranger In Town'.


Of course the hits had to be represented too and the catchy riff and chorus of 'Hold The Line' was treated like a returning hero by the crowd although I thought moving straight into the extremely laid back 'Takin' It Back' killed the vibe in the hall a little. They were soon back on track with the likes of 'Caught In The Balance' and when after around two hours it was time to end the main set we got the joyous jazzy grooves of 'Rosanna'.

Encores were inevitable and there was of course one song everyone was waiting for but they teased things out and 'Africa' didn't appear until the third encore by which time everyone in the crowd was on their feet and ready to explode. A fittingly fun end to a tremendous two and a quarter hours of superb music.

This was the first time I'd seen Toto and if you have an open mind about how rocky your music is and don't care about standard music press conventions of what's cool then I would highly recommend them. An outstanding bunch of musicians and singers with a sense of fun and many. many excellent songs to entertain you with.


Set list:
Running Out Of Time
I'll Supply The Love
Stranger In Town
Never Enough
I Won't Hold You Back
Holy War
Hold The Line
Takin' It Back

Bottom Of Your Soul
Caught In The Balance
Without Your Love
The Road Goes On
Great Expectations
On The Run Medley
Muse/White Sister




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