Celebrating over forty years of straddling the lines between pop and progressive rock, Los Angeleno seven-piece Toto made an impression on the gig-going crowd at Live at the Marquee on Saturday night, as part of Aiken Promotions’ annual summer series at the Monahan Road venue.
Falling just short of a sellout, amid a wide variety of rock and metal gigs happening in Cork and Limerick in the days around it, the early evening’s sunshine set the tone for a two-hour showcase of some of the band’s deep back catalogue of material, on the second date of their anniversary tour’s European leg.
It goes without saying that the big eighties radio hits made well-received appearances during the retrospective set, with ‘Hold the Line’ and ‘Rosanna’ being heard in the early going.
The band’s current line-up, anchored by founder guitarist and vocalist Steve Lukather and longtime vocalist Joseph Williams, featured a complement of prior collaborators and established session musicians, including interim keyboardist Dominique ‘Xavier X’ Talpin, a former collaborator of Prince.
Filling in for regular ivory-tinkler David Paich, Talpin stole the show with an extended keyboard solo, following a semi-acoustic portion of the show that took in several album-cuts and fan favourites. For many in attendance, however, all of this was prelude to an extended performance of the band’s enduring favourite, ‘Africa’, replete with bongo solo and crowd-pleasing key change, met with a venue-wide singalong.
Coming together in 1977, the band’s current tour marks the fortieth anniversary of their debut album, released two years later, and led off by chart-topper ‘Hold the Line’. While success and sustainability were within easier reach from there, world domination followed the release of the band’s eponymously-titled fourth long-player in 1982.
The band was inescapable for years thereafter, as radio stations around the world embraced pristine and polished hits like ‘Africa’, ‘Rosanna’, ‘I Won’t Hold You Back’ and ‘Make Believe’. As personnel changes over the subsequent years changed and shaped the band’s continued new output, these hits went on to form the basis of their live show going forward.
Live at the Marquee continues throughout the month at its purpose-built venue on Monahan Road, with an eclectic selection of gigs in the coming days. In a sold-out show on the 21st, Dublin comedy-rappers Versatile bring their live show to the Marquee, following a string of YouTube hits, festival appearances and oddly enough, a Lifestyle Sports ad campaign.
The house/pop intersection that’s helped drive small-venue business in Cork in recent years continues apace, as Gorgon City, Sonny Fodera and more fill the Marquee for a triple-bill on the 22nd, billed as the ‘One Day Festival’. Amid all of this high-energy fare, none other than Kris Kristofferson and the Strangers play the singer-songwriter’s hits at the Marquee on the 23rd.