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Toto – Budokan 2014 (no label)

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Toto – Budokan 2014Budokan 2014 (no label)

Budokan, Tokyo, Japan – April 28, 2014

Disc 1: (75:14) On the Run/Child’s Anthem/Goodbye Elenore, Goin’ Home, Hydra, St. George And The Dragon, I’ll Be Over You, It’s A Feeling, Rosanna, Wings Of Time, Falling In Between, I Won’t Hold You Back, Pamela

Disc 2: (67:39) 99, White Sister, Africa, Band Introductions, How Many Times, Stop Loving You, Drum Solo, Hold The Line, Home Of The Brave

Disc 3: (32:13) Soundcheck – Soundcheck, Hydra, St. George And The Dragon, Q&A, Jam, Q&A, Please Please Me, A Day In The Life, And I Love Her, Q&A, On The Run/Child’s Anthem

DVD: (Approx 37 minutes) On The Run/Child’s Anthem, Pamela, 99, White Sister, Hold The Line, Home Of The Brave

During 2014, Toto will be celebrating over 35 years in the business. In addition to their seven date 35th Anniversary Japan Tour, the band will be embarking on a co-headlining tour through the US with Michael McDonald and have announced a new studio record in the works. Over the years, the band has been through many changes, too numerous to get into, and has somehow survived and overcame some serious obstacles along the way.

Along with guitarist, vocalist Steve Lukather and keyboardist David Paich, the most recent lineup features the return of original member Steve Porcaro on keyboards and the band’s third vocalist Joseph Williams. Long time Clapton sideman Nathan East is filling in on bass for Mike Porcaro who has unfortunately been diagnosed with ALS and drummer Simon Philips’ recent departure is filled by Keith Carlock who is perhaps best known for his work with Steely Dan.

The recording from Budokan sounds a bit distant but the music is loud and clear however there is some underlying echo from the venue that clutters the lower frequencies a bit. This eventually clears up some and your ears do adjust to it rather quickly. The audience is never over intrusive and the mix between the instruments is very good. If the bass had more definition it would rank excellent but is otherwise a very good enjoyable recording with a big atmosphere.

The band enters the stage to a pre-recorded tape and the drums come crashing in with a thunderous groove for “On The Run”. Luke sang the live version that appeared on the rarities collection Toto XX but Joseph Williams handles it during this tour. They reference “Child’s Anthem” briefly in the intro and the song later segues into “Goodbye Elenore” from the band’s third LP, Turn Back. “Goin’ Home” also from Toto XX is a welcomed addition to the set. Joseph Williams had recorded his own version of this song so it is fitting that it be included in shows after his return.

Two from the Hydra LP follow with the title track and “St. George And The Dragon”, the former featuring the first lead vocal tonight from David Paich. Luke greats the crowd and talks of it being 34 years since they first visited Japan back in 1980, while supporting Hydra coincidentally. One of the band’s biggest ballads, “I’ll Be Over You” finishes with some beautiful solos from Luke, not only can the man burn but is also a very melodic and tasty player. He introduces Steve Porcaro and the band proceeds to play his contribution to Toto IV with “It’s A Feeling”. This is the first tour to feature this song and Porcaro even sings one of the verses himself.

The crowd claps and sings along with the choruses during “Rosanna” and Luke rips up the short but sweet guitar solo. It ends big with more guitars and a keyboard spotlight before Carlock’s finish. Luke dedicates “Wings Of Time” to original drummer Jeff Porcaro who passed away in 1992 and to Mike Porcaro back home. The longest song in the set at 12 minutes, Luke’s bluesy influence takes over. His lightning fast playing is very smooth much to the crowds liking.

“Falling In Between”, the sole survivor from their 2006 album of the same name, is probably the heaviest the band has ever sounded. Keith Carlock handles the complex parts without a hitch. Joseph calls on the crowd again for some assistance with “Pamela”. They oblige and clap along again and sing the choruses to big effect before “99” quiets things down. Luke switches to a nylon string guitar for this and plays some nice lines. Before the track closes we get a taste of Nathan East while he sings and plays his lines in unison. They extend the track with a delicate little instrumental part that is broken down to just guitar, bass and keys. This leads perfectly into “White Sister”. The Japanese audience claps in anticipation for the band’s entry before they come crashing in.

“Are you ready to sing?” Paich asks as they start the groove for “Africa”. Nathan East gets another spotlight in the middle and leads the audience through some African style chants. Luke introduces the band and they have fun with Keith Carlock hinting at a piece of Steely Dan’s “The Royal Scam”. He goes on to tease Nathan East as having been seen with Eric Clapton “5 minutes ago” on his recent visit to Japan and Joseph’s dad, composer John Williams, gets a nod for his “Jaws” and “Close Encounters” soundtracks. Williams’ vocal during “Stop Loving You” is stronger than ever. The band is on fire during this one and the end leads into Keith’s drum solo. The solo is very impressive and is evident why they called on him to replace one of the masters, Simon Philips.

Their very first single, “Hold The Line”, is where it all started and is a fitting first encore. This song put the band on the map back in 1978 peaking at #5 in the US on Billboard’s Hot 100. They finish the night with “Home Of The Brave”. This works as a great closer as it has a kind of anthem feel to it and really kicks it into high gear at the end.

The third disc captures the afternoon soundcheck in similar quality to the evening show. This is becoming common practice with some bands where they offer a chance for people to gain admittance to watch their soundcheck and have a Q&A with the band. Where it is just a soundcheck none of the songs are complete but the band keeps it light and mess around with a few Beatle tunes during the Q&A.

The DVD includes 37 minutes of audience shot footage taken from straight on about as far back as the soundboard. The audio and video are both nice and clear and the person filming is able to zoom in and out with a nice steady image. It captures the opening of the show but “On The Run/Child’s Anthem” is cut before getting to the “Goodbye Elenore” segue. “Pamela” is also incomplete but the remainder features full songs with the exception of the first few seconds of “Hold The Line”. If this was included as a teaser than it worked because I am now eager to see the rest of the concert from this source.

This is a very enjoyable tour for Toto fans as they are playing many rarities and featuring material that hasn’t been played in years. On top of that, the band is in amazing form and sound better than ever, especially Joseph Williams who is really on top of his game. With Luke, Paich, and the returns of Steve Porcaro and Joseph Williams, it seems the band has more original members now than it has had in recent years which also brings about a return to their classic sound. Budokan 2014 is a great set for Toto fans. With the show, the soundcheck, and a DVD, this makes for a nice comprehensive set worth having.

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