At Toto’s homecoming show at the Whisky, the band tried to wear three musical hats, but only one of them seemed to fit.
The L.A.-based quartet, augmented here by an extra percussionist and three flashy backup singers, would have done itself, and the packed house, a favor if it had stuck to just one of its trio of seemingly incompatible styles.
While there’s no denying the impressive chops of the band, the on-stage delivery — cold, and without spontaneity — prevented the audience from actually connecting with either the songs or the musicians.
Band is known mostly for its string of mid-’80s hits: “Africa,””Rosanna, “”Hold the Line” and it’s with these songs, and newer tunes like them, that Toto stands its best chance for success. But too much of the show was dedicated to irrelevant soloing, passe now, and a mid-set “unplugged” segment that killed the momentum the band had established up to that point.
Which all added up to a confusing musical mixture that seemed to satisfy few. The muscular talents of the members, particularly guitarist Steve Lukather (whose presence attracted Edward Van Halen and recluse Jeff Beck to the gig) and new drummer Simon Phillips, are certainly compelling. But in the small confines of the Whisky, the constant histrionics fell on overwhelmed ears.
The powerpacked “Kingdom of Desire,” opener “Gypsy Train” (both from the group’s new Relativity album), the progressive “Home of the Brave” and an extended version of “Hold the Line” were solid cuts that tried, unsuccessfully, to salvage what ultimately was a disappointing show.