Live In Budapest

I have to tell you all the expectations I had before the concert were wrong. I was expecting the venue to be rather empty but Toto managed to draw a full house! I was expecting it to be a kinda jukebox band show and God, I was wrong. I was expecting the audience to be 40 some, withdrawn, only squeezing some polite handclap out of themselves at times but they were rather youngsters and absolutely enthusiastic. So all in all the show was a very pleasant surprise.

I attended the gig with my friend Jürgen Werner who was here from Germany and he had seen Toto on the very same tour. He said they had a much bigger light show there but we are already used to this here in Hungary. Bands come here with just a limited gear. Anyway, after a short intro the band got on stage with "Caught In The Balance" from their "new-ish" "Mindfields" album and the crowd got into it surprisingly well. I thought people won't really appreciate new stuff being played but I was wrong. However the first real loud uproar came when they started "Rosanna" that they finished with an awesome piano-guitar jam. David Paitsch has some "personal family shit going on" (as Steve Lukather said at the end of the show, when introducing the band. He is still part of the band, he just couldn't make it to this show) and his place was filled by Jeff Babko (with JJ helping out on the second keyboard) and I gotta say this guy is one hell of a musician. Both his playing and his behavior on stage were professional and got the crowd going.

Though Steve Lukather is one of my fave guitarists, it was the first time I saw him live. This guy is more than amazing. He had several solo parts during the show that made our jaws bang on the ground. Never having seen a Toto live show before this many solo parts were a surprise for me. The band was alive and kicking and absolutely hooked on MUSIC, they pleased audience, no matter whether they were musicians or just "plain" music lovers. Luke also asked the audience how many musicians there were. Having seen lots of hands in the air he said "quite a lot, then we'd better play well." Actually there were really lots of musicians there, and talking to a fellow musician of mine after the show he stated "I doubt there were ANY serious musicians in this country who weren't here", and I think he was right about that. And we were more than pleased!

One of the next best scenes of the show came right after Luke's first solo. Before describing the scene you'd rather have to try to picture Luke and Bobby these days. Luke with his small goat-beard looks as some Spanish bartender and Bobby having eaten way too many donuts, have started rounding as the new moon and looks as a French cheese maker. But hell, they are still the best musicians around! So, after Luke's ripping solo, Bobby comes back and starts singing a half minute solo part without any music. He goes so damn high and loud that the overdrive control of the microphone drives the volume down "thinking" the voice coming out of his throats is identical to some overdrive noise! And this is true, not just some figment of my imagination!!

Pictured here:
Steve Lukather and Bobby Kimball photographed by Csaba Molek,

However the highlight of the show - for the non-musicians of the audience - was the part when Luke coming up on stage with an acoustic guitar the band did most of their hits from "99" to "Fools Never Learn.", etc. The crowd got into this part extremely well and the first notes of "Africa" just strengthened their enthusiasm. The lights all turned green-red-yellow through the song, which was a great idea from the designer of the light show. There was an awesome drum solo by Simon Phillips after an instrumental song that was introduced by Luke that it is in memoriam of Jeff Porcaro. Actually, I was surprised to see that Luke was doing all the talking and keeping the contact with the audience, and he did a very good job. Bobby mostly just ran up and down the stage, inviting the audience to sing or clap along with his hands and moves and he disappeared between the songs from the stage. Luke even brought his son up on stage for a short jam with the rest of the band. The kid was cute, seemed to be a bit embarrassed but the crowd just loved this part too.

Another pleasant surprise was the crowd's positive reaction to "Making A Better World" from the newie because people were singing it along with Luke. Mike Porcaro's short bass solo was another highlight for me but the crowd got going again to "White Sister" that run all of us over with its energy. It was already getting towards the end of the gig but the band was still in top form and running as much as some teenage glam band and both Bobby's and Luke's voice were still shining. So were the background vocals. I was expecting (hoping for) female vocalists but - disregarding the fact they could have added a lot to the look of the band - I didn't miss them at all because the vocals were so perfect. The band played two encores and left us with "Hold The Line" (what else?!) with each and every person of the audience singing the refrain with and giving an overjoyed applause to the band.

Anyone I talked to after the show was absolutely pleased no matter whether they were musicians or just listeners. I even met my mother and my brother (who were also there!) after the show and even my mom said it would have been a big mistake not to come and see Toto.

Pictured here:
No, this is not a new team from the Bundesliga. From left to right: Jürgen (The German AOR Guru), Manuela (Jürgen's girlfriend), Bandi (of the Loud&Clear team), Florian (The German AOR Chimney Cleaner) after the TOTO gig in Budapest.