August 16, 2014
Choctaw Casino Event Center
Durrant, OK USA
Review by Tim Taylor
Photos by Terry Walsh
Toto And Michael McDonald On Tour In America
Michael McDonald and Toto seemed like an odd pairing when I first saw this show advertised, but because of my minimal knowledge of them, I walked into the Choctaw Event Center with an open mind, curious about why people are so fanatical about these artists.
Toto came out first and immediately electrified the room with the hard rock medley "On the Run/ Child's Anthem/ Goodbye Elenore," then pleased the crowd early with their breakthrough single "Rosanna" from 1982. Guitar God Steve Lukather constantly challenged keyboardists Steve Porcaro and David Paich while trading solos, and made songs from the late 70's like "Hydra" and "99" sound fresh and current without losing their original soulful vibe. Michael McDonald came out and joined Toto on the hit single "I'll Be Over You," and lead singer Joseph Williams wailed on 1988's "Pamela". After a few mid-tempo songs, I was craving something heavy, and they delivered with a version of "White Sister" that brought everyone to their feet. Porcaro and Williams were perfect, but it was Lukather's shredding that left us all in awe. The obscure 80's rocker "Home of the Brave" was played in honor of our troops, and the show came to a close with the audience singing along with the mega-hits "Africa" and "Hold the Line". As a person who grew up in the 80's on classic rock music, I'm ashamed of myself for not fully appreciating Toto until now. Their unique mix of rock, soul, and prog made this an unforgettable night, and they've earned themselves a new fan.
Michael McDonald has been mocked by my generation in the movie ‘The 40-Year-Old- Virgin' and the TV show ‘Family Guy', but I always secretly enjoyed his music. As he powered through classics like "Sweet Freedom" and "I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)" I began to understand the obsession with his mellow mix of rock, jazz, and soul. With Tommy Sims on bass and background vocals, the songs were even more soulful than usual as they powered through 1984's "Yah Mo B There," the Motown classic "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," and a pair of cool, bluesy songs from 2000's Blue Obsession that McDonald and Sims wrote together. The crowd really reacted as the infamous "What a Fool Believes" played, but we were unprepared for the greatness that was in store for the encore.
As McDonald and his band took their places, they invited Toto out to jam with them. They started with a mellow version of Clapton's "Change the World," which was written by Tommy Sims, then launched into a funk-filled medley of Stevie Wonder's "You Haven't Done Nothin'" and "Superstition". Both bands had outstanding female backing vocalists, Drea Rhenee and Jenny Douglas-McRae, and the ladies took control during the medley, sending shivers down my spine with their powerhouse abilities. Brandon Fields was out of control on the sax, and Lukather continued to blow everyone's minds. The show ended with all of them rocking the Doobie Brothers' hit "Taking it to the Streets," as everyone took turns showing off their gifts. There was so much talent on stage that it was almost overwhelming.
This was one of those shows I went into not knowing what to expect, and I walked away completely surprised by how much fun I had. There is so much more to these artists than what you've heard on the radio, so please listen to more of their music and go see them live. You'll be glad you did. I certainly am.