Toto roll back the years

Revitalised by their new album, Toto still have what it takes

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If you think that Toto are one of those bands better off left in the 80s - much like Simple Minds and the Culture Club - then on this evidence you’re wrong. Performing material from their new album XIV alongside the inevitable mix of oldies, Toto provide an evening of entertainment that proves they’re well and truly back.

The band make a grand entrance with Running Out of Time. A spectacular light shows follows, and it’s comforting to hear Joe Williams back behind the microphone, showing that you don’t have to be twenty to have an outstanding set of pipes. Still managing to hit the high notes, he proves just what a sterling vocalist he is. New songs Great Expectations and Holy War are received warmly, sounding powerful and clearly worth their place in the Toto archive.

XIV is a great album, and it sounds better live than it does in the studio: with the addition of stellar backing vocalists and percussion, the new material sounds fuller and creates more of an impact when turned up to 11. If you don’t know the new material, you can still sense you’re listening to future classics, even if the audience are largely here for vintage Toto. The place erupts as the unmistakable intro of Hold the Line begins, and the classic riffs and solo explode around the room.

More golden oldies follow – Stranger in Town, I Won’t Hold You Back and Pamela are all pleasant surprises in the set list – and of course, Rosanna.

Steve Lukather dives into Little Wing mid-way through the long-forgotten classic Without Your Love for four minutes of guitar hero antics with a sound that’s clearer and more muscular than normal, devoid of the usual plethora of effects. This is followed by a touching tribute to Mike and Jeff Porcaro, as the band perform The Road Goes On in honour of the pair.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Toto show without Africa. The band rock through the encore, performing the hit for an adoring audience and blessing the rains for a good ten minutes.

It’s a fitting finale to a great evening. It’s still the Paich/Lukather show, but with Williams (still the best Toto vocalist) at the mic and original bassist David Hungate and percussionist Lenny Castro back with the band, it’s a showcase for some truly serious musicianship, and an amazing show. Why would you expect anything less?

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