Over a year ago TOTO started into their 40 Trips Around The Sun world tour, a powerful and highly successful celebration of their 40th anniversary and they are still running. TOTO even extended their trips and returned to Germany for a handful of summer open-air shows. Good for me (and for all the other fans out there) because I have never seen the Californian Rock titans playing live before. To me, TOTO is a band back-from-the-days its songs I sang along in the 80s and one of the legends that were still on my bucket-list of bands to see at least once in the lifetime.
The fact that TOTO would play the wonderful :: Amphitheater Gelsenkirchen :: made this show already special beforehand, for me and my aspiring editorial company, a 10 years old youngster. Ready for musical childhood education? He was skeptical at first but loved it once he tasted the open-air feeling and heard the songs. He even recognized all the classics ;) Our travel towards Gelsenkirchen was surprisingly smooth and so we arrived early. Good for us, as most parking was already gone. Quick decision to turn and use the parking garage… phew. The queue was vastly longer when we left that building. Many others did not even find a parking and thus found a not so nice surprise after the show, as the municipality of Gelsenkirchen has sent out squadrons of meter maids to paste tickets on the windscreens of every parking offenders. I guess the money was rolling in richly on this Sunday evening.
The show was officially sold out. This surely made the organizers happy but many fans were complaining about the side effects, as the Amphitheater was extremely packed and crowded. There were long queues at the booths and toilets, not enough seats for the ones that wanted to seat, and securities had always again to clear the stairs.
The weather again was cooperating. It was cloudy and fresh but not raining at all. The sound did not. Sound was too loud, sloppy and unbalanced. What a shame for such band as TOTO!
:: pics :: ZFG ::
So, let’s start with the warm-up first. For that :: ZFG :: entered the stage, even earlier than announced. Never heard of them? Me neither. No wonder, this band is as fresh as the morning dew, existing just a year in this constellation. ZFG have just released a single so far and work right now on their debut EP. They did a little tour in the US and now entered the big arenas in Europe. So, how could such newcomers land a support slot for Toto? Well, you can if your (sur)name is Lukather and Porcaro. ZFG is somewhat like Toto – the next generation. Music runs literally in their blood.
The guys in ZFG have already gained experiences in some projects before and presented themselves quite confident. ZFG do not sound like a copy of their parents, although they range in a similar genre. Musically, ZFG mix and use everything they like and have fun of. No limits, no rules, as long as it sounds riffy, groovy and anthemic. Zero fucks given… ZFG, you got it? What they play is powerful, varied and highly energetic Pop-tinged Rock. The guys cut it.
ZFG had visibly a hell of fun on stage and rocked the Amphitheater as if they were old hands in that business. Especially Trev Lukather was killing it. He actually does not look any bit like his father - he much more looks like a young Axl Rose.
This show was indeed an entertaining one. The young & the wild. A band with self-confidence. They have talent and are willing to achieve success on their own, not on the names of their dads (even if they might be thankful for the support and possibilities those names give them). I’m sure we will hear more of them soon. How to rock big arenas they already learnt ;)
Band: Trev Lukather (git), Sam Porcaro (bass), Jules Galli (vox), Josh Devine (drums)
Setlist: Vibez On, Saturday, Just A Man, Holehearted, Drive It Away, Show No Love, Lights, Special
:: pics :: TOTO ::
Now, even the tiniest place was occupied. Expectations were high and almost palpable. I would have loved to see that scenery at Rock Hard Festival three weeks ago.
Anyway, it did not took long and :: TOTO :: kicked off with the first piano tunes introducing Devil's Tower, to broke in fully by the first hit that followed right after with Hold The Line. What a start!
TOTO delivered a two hours set filled with many classics. They could have easily played a best-of list or just the latest greatest hits album 40 Trips Around The Sun in its entirety. But they did not. Devil's Tower and Alone are two newly recorded and unreleased tracks till 40 Trips Around The Sun. TOTOs milestone Toto IV was considered with four songs, as for that, the band’s latest records were left unconsidered. Well, I guess, a career spanning selist including all records would lead to a four, five hours show at least.
Many TOTO songs have a story behind; the members shared some of them. So I did not know that Steve Lukather and Steve Porcaro worked a lot with Michael Jackson. His smash hit Human Nature was co-written by Steve Porcaro and inspired by his daughter having a rough day at school. Georgy Porgy (from the self-titled debut) was the first song Lukather ever sang on as a 19 years old, or that TOTO had written the music for the movie Dune (Dune (Desert Theme)). By the way, the father of Joseph Williams renowned Hollywood film composer John Williams.
Of course, TOTO played “that song”, even its extended 12 minutes version, the song the fans were eagerly waiting for, which was surely the highlight for many. Africa got the loudest reception and most enthusiastic sing-along refrains. The Amphitheater was echoing from thousands-voiced sing-alongs. Luckily, its lyrics the weather did not take literally, although some menacing clouds were waving above our heads.
As already mentioned the sound was a setback, some parts were hardly to hear. That narrowed the pleasure a bit, though, it was a special event to me, to see this band, to photograph them and most of all to hear and see all those great songs performed live. I really enjoyed the show a lot. And so did my co-writer ;)
Original keyboard player David Paich could not take part in this tour, he did not play the latest US tour either. It is said he is still recovering from illness. Get well soon David. Next time I see TOTO it will hopefully with you on keys. He got temporarily replaced by Dominique “Xavier” Talpin and he did an awesome job. The eight-piece band was equally superb and super tight. Every single musician got his spot to shine with his musicianship, extending the crowd pleasers with epic solos. The extra-long keyboard solo was pretty crazy and probably a challenging ride for every fan not used to tricky Prog stuff. Warren Ham was the busiest one on stage, seamlessly jumping between backing vocals, flute, sax and harmonica.
As it comes often with such memorable shows, there are many things and details to write about. Still, I would not be able to paint an overall picture that reflects the show properly. It would be much better to experience such shows yourself. The crowd loved it anyway. I loved it too. I don’t know, how long TOTO will tour, so you better catch them while it is still possible. I’m in anyway, for another trip ;)
By the way: Despite of being legendary, TOTO do not see a need to rip off their fans. Merch prizing was enjoyably low: tees 25 Euro. Great evening, memorable show!
Band: Joseph Williams (vox), Steve Lukather (git, vox), Dominique “Xavier” Talpin (Prince) (keys, vox), Steve Porcaro (keys, vox), Shem von Schroeck (bass), Shannon Forrest (drums), Warren Ham (vox, sax, flute), Lenny Castro (percussions)
Setlist: Devil's Tower, Hold The Line, Lovers In The Night, Alone, I Will Remember, English Eyes, Jake To The Bone, Rosanna, Acoustic *** Georgy Porgy, Human Nature (Michael Jackson cover), I'll Be Over You, No Love, Stop Loving You ***, Keyboard Extravaganza, Girl Goodbye, Lion, Dune (Desert Theme), While My Guitar Gently Weeps (The Beatles cover), Make Believe, Africa // Home Of The Brave