Toto, an iconic name in music history, made a return to Budokan in Tokyo as part of “Dogs of Oz Tour” and played a sold-out show on Friday night. They started Japan tour in Fukuoka and played in 7 cities before Tokyo show. The legendary venue Budokan is in the very center of Tokyo. It is a famous indoor arena with a capacity of over 14,000 people and many big acts have played there. It’s the best place to wrap up their Japan tour. I’m sure you have some live albums played at Budokan If you are a rock fan.
Toto is an American rock band formed in Los Angeles, California in 1977. They have sold over 40 million albums and won multiple Grammy Awards through their 45 years history. The band has gone through multiple lineup changes, the phenomenal guitarist Steve Lukather remains as the only original member. I must mention that David Paich is an official member too. But he mostly stopped touring the world. The band’s current touring members consisted of Steve Lukather, Joseph Williams, bassist John Pierce, drummer Robert “Sput” Searight, keyboardist/background vocalist Steve Maggiora, and keyboardist Dominique “Xavier” Taplin. Unfortunately, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Warren Ham couldn’t come here due to his health condition.
It was very impressive to see the packed audience from the photo pit. How lucky I was to be able to be here and photograph their show! The arena went black, and Toto took to the stage at 7:00 pm. Steve Lukather addressed the sellout audience in Japanese, “Konbanwa, Tokyo!” (Konbanwa means good evening). The band opened the set with “Orphan” from their album Toto XIV (2015) and the dedicated Tokyo crowd was hypnotized right from the start. Next up was “Afraid of Love” from the masterpiece Toto IV (1982) and their debut single “Hold the Line” from the first album Toto (1978) followed. The party was in full swing!
First 3 song was over and that meant my shooting was also over. It was really challenging to capture their performance on the huge stage above my head. I packed my gear with fear in my heart. I didn’t feel I got good shots and I could have done better. It was time to move on anyway. I started to take a note for this review.
The next song “Falling in Between” was surprising. The new keyboard player Steve Maggiora took lead vocal. His powerful voice mesmerized us. What a talent! With Lukather’s introduction “To the Japanese beautiful girls of all ages’ the sweet ballad “I’ll Be Over You” from Fahrenheit (1986) was played. His deep and a little husky voice was very attractive. His guitar solo was amazing as always. The audience welcomed the song with waving cellphone lights.
Then, genius Dominique “Zavier” Taplin played jazzy keyboard solo and that was amazingly beautiful on the spotlighted stage. I have known him since Toto’s previous Japan tour in 2019 and his performance and technique are beyond words. His play made me feel comfortable moving rhythm, not just a melody. I don’t think he needs an explanation that he played with Prince anymore. Dominique “Zavier” Taplin is one of the top musicians today.
After Joseph Williams’ rich vocals warmed up the audience again with “White Sister” from Hydra (1979), hit singles were performed. The familiar song for Toto fans, “Georgy Porgy” was arranged by Dominique “Zavier” Taplin and It was refreshing. And we enjoyed “Pamela” with dancing and clapping hands. Joseph was always walking around the stage while singing. He was busy with entertaining the audience and interacting with the band members. Before the band played “Kingdom of Desire”, Lukather told us that “This song is dedicated to Porcaro brothers”. The same titled album Kingdom of Desire was released in 1992. The founding member and drummer, Jeff Porcaro passed away during rehearsals for the tour promoting the album. Lukather’s guitar solo was especially intense on this song.
Now it was time for another talent, Robert “Sput” Searight! Although everyone discovered that he was an incredible drummer at that time, his solo play captured us with his sharp, dynamic and exciting drumming. In addition, he interacted with the audience during his solo and it was fun to be able to join his fantastic performance. It’s not surprising he received 7 Grammys! Check out his profile if you don’t know him yet.
They switched to “Waiting for Your Love”, and Steve Maggiora took the lead vocals. He wowed the crowd again with his energetic voice. After playing the pop tune “I’ll Supply the Love” from the first album Toto (1978), Lukather introduced each member to the crowd. At this point, it was obvious that they were getting along. It was nice to see Lukather introduced the bassist John Pierce as a childhood friend with his arm around John’s shoulder. John has been a bass player for Huey Lewis & The News. His solid bass lines were essential for the band’s perfect sound. He was always smiling nicely during the show. Lukather shredded his guitar very hard in the next tune “Home of the Brave” and it was very cool.
Fans favorites “Rosanna” and “Africa” from Toto IV (1982) brought the set to a close. Of course, these 2 songs received the greatest feedback from the audience. Everyone in the arena was singing along and clapping. Countless cell phone lights were so beautiful and touched my heart like their last Tokyo show in 2019. For their encore, the band played a cover song of The Beatles “With a Little Help from My Friends” by Gospel Version. Their chorus was so moving, and this made the night very special, unforgettable one. And their 105-minute set was finally over.
During pandemic, we lost many things and had to get through tough situations. However, I appreciate that we can enjoy live music again. I was blown away by their dedicated musicianship and fantastic quality of their music. We were very lucky to be able to experience their live performance. Every member of Toto seemed to be performing at the absolute highest level possible. It was exactly what a live show should be. The new Toto really exceeded my expectations. I already look forward to seeing what Lukather does next. Because he said in a low voice during the show, “Keep the music alive!”
Steve Lukather – Guitar, Vocals
Joseph Williams – Vocals, Additional keyboards
John Pierce – Bass
Robert “Sput” Searight – Drums, Percussion
Dominique “Zavier” Taplin – Keyboards, vocals
Steve Maggiora – Keyboards, Vocals
2. Afraid of Love
3. Hold the Line
4. Falling in Between
5. I’ll Be Over You
6. Keyboard Solo
7. White Sister
8. Georgy Porgy
10. Kingdom of Desire
11. Drum Solo
12. Waiting for Your Love
13. I’ll Supply the Love
14. Home of the Brave
17. With a Little Help From My Friends (The Beatles cover)
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Aki is a published and award-winning concert photographer based in Tokyo, Japan. Her musical preferences are deeply rooted in the 70s. However, she also loves to see and capture new bands. You can find her work in magazines, newspapers, online and galleries.