Concert Review: Toto @ The Egg, 03/15/2023


Toto delighted a capacity crowd at the Hart Theatre Wednesday night with a scintillating set of classic rock hits and some deep album cuts.

If this is “Yacht rock,” then Toto is surely an imperious battleship, all guns blazing, with a crew of immensely talented musicians.

The opening salvo was the propulsive rocker “Afraid of Love,” and the seven-piece band did not let up the intensity from there to the end, some 100 minutes later.

Photo by Claude Sawyer

Standing center stage was guitarist Steve Lukather, the sole original member of the band that formed in Los Angeles in 1977. This is, in fact, the fifteenth incarnation of Toto. But the band has never been about big personalities or flamboyant stars. Perhaps befitting a band formed from session players or “sidemen” (who between them have appeared on a staggering five thousand plus albums), the collective members of Toto have retained a certain anonymity apart maybe from Lukather, who amongst guitar circles is recognized as a monster player. He can shred with the best of them, but “Luke’s” playing is not just about flash or speed. His solos, which he blasts effortlessly throughout the set, always have a melodic flair, his riffs as memorable as vocal lines, surging like the epic extended passage he takes in the heavy martial stomp of “Kingdom of Desire,” or yearningly keening, like the heartfelt cry of his coda to “I’ll be over you,” the very definition of “the power ballad.” No, Toto is about the music and what a stunning and varied display they put on, showing themselves to be absolute masters of various styles. Power ballads, twisty turn-on-a-dime prog, hard rock, singalong pop, sophisticated funk, they can do it all with ease.

Luke is ably supported by long-time lead vocalist Joseph Williams, who first joined the band in 1986. Although the band shares the vocals around impressively, Williams does most of the heavy lifting, handling the majority of the leads with total conviction. A great example of his versatility is that on the original recording of “Africa” (Toto’s most popular song and the inevitable show closer), the vocals were sung by long-since departed band members David Paich (the verses) and Bobby Kimball (the chorus.) Williams sings the whole song straight through and doesn’t miss a step. Splendid.

Photo by Claude Sawyer

The rest of the band is just, well, stellar. Bassist John Pierce capably holds down the bottom end, exuding a Sinatra fedora cool. He is partnered by drummer Robert “Sput” Searight. Searight is just explosive, his solo spot (or should that be “Sput?”) a kinetic blur of thunderous energy, punctuated by triggered James Brown samples. Give the drummer some!

The two keyboard players to Luke’s right contribute mightily to the sound. Steve Maggiora adds strong vocals to his synthesizer work, as does Dominique “Xavier” Taplin. “X” gets a solo spot early in the set with some sublime jazzy piano. He interpolates an excerpt of “What you won’t do for love” into his improvisation, a subtle and classily unspoken tribute to singer Bobby Caldwell, who passed away the previous day. Luke tells us that Taplin played previously with Prince, which proves “He’s badass.” Indeed.

Photo by Claude Sawyer

The band is rounded out by Warren Ham, almost a one-man band in himself, playing percussion, sax, flute, harp, and singing harmony. I have seen many a gig, but rarely one with a band so tight and in the pocket.

“Africa” (of course) is the rousing finale, followed by a rather surprising choice for an encore, the Joe Cocker/Grease Band arrangement of “With a Little Help from my Friends.” Maybe all that time that Luke has spent in Ringo’s All-Star Band has rubbed off on him! The band, as ever, are impeccable. The lights come up, and the crowd drifts away, having witnessed a band still active and still at the top of its game. Just great.


  • Afraid of Love
  • Hold the Line
  • Falling in Between
  • I’ll be over you
  • Piano improvisation
  • White Sister
  • Georgy Porgy
  • Pamela
  • Kingdom of Desire
  • Drum solo
  • You are the Flower
  • Waiting for your Love
  • I’ll Supply the Love
  • Band introductions
  • Home of the Brave
  • Rosanna
  • Africa


  • With a Little Help from my Friends

Photo Gallery by Claude Sawyer

1 Comment
  1. Christopher Arndt says

    Spot on review Mark. As a true Toto fan (seen them live in concert ten times from 2013-19 and 2022-23) and 15x overall, they are relevant as any 45 years in and the most under-rated American band of all-time IMO. I have been aware of all of your detailed assessments of the band as a rsult and its performance right here in my backyard at The Egg proved that.

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