The last show-biz act named Toto was a little dog who was lifted by a tornado and carried off to the magic land of Oz. The newest act named Toto is a sextet of L.A. studio-fashioned musicians.
Last night at the Merriweather Post Pavilion, the pop-rock band tried to churn up a tornado, but the best they could manage was a mild summer breeze, and they left their listeners stuck in the corn of Kansas. Toto sounded like a bunch of talented backup musicians in search of an idea or a personality to back.
Toto's musicians are quite capable craftsmen even if they don't have any original ideas. David Paich favored schmaltzy, quasi-classical piano frills during his solos. Steve Porcaro programmed everything from horn sections to oriental percussion into his stacks of synthesizers. Two more Porcaros--drummer Jeff and new bassist Mike--supplied crisp but swingless rhythms. Contrasting with this bland music were Steve Lukather's gaudy, quasi-Hendrix guitar solos.
Unfortunately, the best singer on stage, special guest Timothy Shmit of Poco and the Eagles, got only one lead vocal. Toto's current hit, "Rosanna," and their first, "Hold the Line," were expanded from the recorded versions by grandiose, showoff solos from Steve Porcaro and Lukather.
Franke & the Knockouts, a formulaic heavy metal band, opened the show.