Everyone loves “Africa” by Toto. It’s one of those ubiquitous songs you hear on the radio from time to time – almost as if the DJ turns to you as if to say “hurry up boy, he’s waiting for you over there”.
It’s a classic song, right? So good even Weezer has it covered. But here’s a fun fact: Toto has a lot of other Songs! And if your acquaintance with their work begins and ends with “Africa,” you’re missing out on quality progressive rock.
If this is you, don’t feel bad. I only knew a few of their other songs until I saw them opening for Journey at the Giant Center on March 4th. But now that I know more, it’s my job to share them with you all. Here’s a quick look at some of the songs they played tonight:
A great way to kick off a show, “Orphan” is from Toto’s fourteenth album, the aptly named “Toto XIV” released in 2015. And unlike a lot of the gigs I go to, almost everyone who saw the gig tonight was already in their seats for the first issue of the opening act.
Makes sense, because both Toto and Journey are now classic rock bands, and there’s obviously a lot of overlap between their fans. I usually try to see the first game regardless of who is playing, which is not always the case for other viewers. But this audience (an almost full Giant Center, at first glance) felt the same way.
“Stay on the line”
It’s one of Toto’s biggest hits, and you probably recognize it even if you were only able to find “Africa” initially. It was from Toto’s debut album, and by playing it early in the show, the band had gone through almost 40 years and almost their entire collection of works.
Like many bands that have survived this long, Toto’s lineup has changed several times since its founding. But from the opening piano chords and guitar riffs of “Hold The Line,” they demonstrated that they still had the classic sound.
“White Sister” is a good example of how Toto can go from a jazzy, soulful piano intro to fully embracing the more epic progressive rock style with squealing guitars.
And their rendition of that song had a bit of that dichotomy as well. Lead singer Steve Lukather patrolled the stage, greeting some of the sections of the crowd in a way that was both casual and somehow personal, recognizing some of those fans who were hidden on either side of the stage. And then the number ended with a series of pretty intense flashing lights.
This debut hit from Toto has a funky groove, and you can even hear a style on bass and drums that will eventually lead to “Africa” and massive success. Also, dig that killer use of the jazz flute! A seriously underestimated number.
“I Won’t Hold You Back”
This song was introduced to the crowd as “for all you beautiful Hershey girls”. And he also appeared on “Toto IV”, the same album as “Africa” and “Rosanna” (more on that later), helping to solidify Toto’s place at the top of the charts around 1982. is slower and darker than the other two songs, but no less epic.
“Stop Loving You”
There’s something so purely 80s about this song that I can’t help but love it. It’s like something between the synth pop of the late 80s and the big tasty ballads of that era, but also a big instrumental breakdown. And a big, rising voice in the chorus, which is in the same vein as the entire “Bless the Rain” chord from “Africa.”
What does “Africa” have to compete with this song? Drums or anything? No competition.
Arguably Toto’s other most recognizable hit, “Rosanna” has to be up there in the pantheon of “songs a guy sings on a girl’s name.” The extended instrumental jam was a highlight of the band’s set.
And okay, okay, let’s talk about their closing number.
It’s a catchy and fun song, and if you don’t like it, you’re not fun. These are just facts.
It was, of course, a great way to cap off Toto’s hour-long set and give the crowd a chance to sing along and shout along with “it’s gonna take a long time to get away from youuuuuu”, and also to do a chant-and-answer segment of the night.
Toto put on a great show, and Journey followed with their own set of great songs – and believe it or not, several of them are even better than “Don’t Stop Believing.” Click here to learn more about it!
And speaking of gigs, here’s our list of the biggest shows coming to our area over the next few months:
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