Toto Dogz of Oz play the Stiefel Theatre

Toto performing on the stage at the Stiefel Theatre in Salina, Kansas on Friday, April 12, 2024. (Photo credit: Reagan Johnson)

REAGAN JOHNSON | Go Venue Magazine

Toto performed at the Stiefel Theatre in Salina, Kansas on Friday, April 12th as part of their Dogz of Oz tour.

I met a man in line who joked, “Nothing like a bunch of 50-year-olds coming to relive their glory days.” There were a lot of die-hard fans lining up. I didn’t know a lot of Toto’s work going into the show tonight, so I was excited to see what I’d been missing.

They played their song A Thousand Years, which had never been played live before. It was a special moment for long-time fans to experience. I had just seen my favorite band a week ago to the day of this show. With all the emotion of that still fresh in my mind, I could instantly recognize the same feelings on the faces of those around me. Toto is still giving their biggest fans that special feeling, thankfully, with no end in sight.

They slowed things down with the song, Stop Loving You. It was one of my favorites from the set, and the crowd was visibly into it as well, despite some other casual fans seeming less familiar with this tune. It was an enjoyable one for everyone, and one that I’ll remember.

Lead vocalist Joseph Williams took a monologue break and referenced the 1981 war thriller “Das Boot” when describing all of the members living together on the road. Guitarist Steve Lukather quipped back without missing a beat, with “More like Das Booty”. He filled the set with laughs and great comedic timing between songs.

The band took a break to introduce all seven current members. The lineup was a total powerhouse.

First up was keyboardist Greg Phillinganes. He has such an impressive and extensive resume. Of his former work listed, the standouts were his work with Stevie Wonder and of course, Michael Jackson. Phillinganes played a short sample of the song Bad by Michael Jackson, on which he is credited with the synthesizers. He was so impressive to watch and is the most talented keyboardist I’ve ever seen. I’d venture a guess that it was the case for everyone else in the room as well.

Next in the lineup was the “new guy” also on the keyboard. Steve Maggiora is the youngest among the current members of the band, but absolutely holds his own. He is currently also in a band with the son of Phil Collins called The Effect.

On percussion, sax, vocals, and much more was Warren HamLukather joked that he can play every instrument but guitar, and that’s lucky for him on lead guitar. Just when I thought he’d played all the instruments he could in one night, he pulled out a flute, which was fun for me, a fellow flutist. His career has been very impressive, including a run in Ringo Starr’s band.

On bass was John Pierce. He was so much fun to watch. He knows how to work a stage while playing some of the cleanest bass I’ve heard. Pierce and Lukather go way back. Back to being “fetuses” actually. Their mothers were pregnant together, and once the two were born just a few months apart, they started making music. And it shows. Pierce has toured with Tom Petty, amongst many others.

The current drummer Shannon Forrest employs a perfect mix of “old school and new school”. He played on all of Taylor Swift’s albums that were recorded in Nashville. The band asked for a show of hands of any “Swifties” in the room. Some hesitant hands wavered at half-mast, and Lukather cleared the air by proclaiming “No shame, we love Taylor!”. Forrest’s resume is loaded with hits, and his playing speaks for itself.

Steve Lukather and Joseph Williams are the two remaining original members of the band. On their website, they refer to the two as the “Dogz of Oz” giving this tour its name.

The first original member still with the band is lead vocalist Joseph WilliamsSteve Lukather called him his “Dearest friend on planet Earth”. The two have been friends since their early teens, and their friendship was apparent on stage in the way that they work together. Another anecdote about Williams that I didn’t know before the show, is that he is credited for the vocals on the Lion King hit, Hakuna Matata. It turns out I have been a fan of his since I was two years old, I just didn’t know it. His voice is so powerful and seems to only get better with age.

Last, but not least to be introduced, was the man who had done most of the talking so far, Steve Lukather. He is the only other original member of Toto who is still playing in the band. He was introduced with a short but sweet blurb from his best friend, vocalist Joseph WilliamsWilliams jokingly claimed that Lukather “Has alien DNA” and is “Straight from Area 51”. I can see that, and it was definitely meant as a compliment. His talent is out of this world.

All the members of the band seem to be having the time of their lives together on stage. It’s like one big jam session with some of the most prolific musicians of our time.

The band played their song “Home of the Brave” with Warren Ham taking a break from all of his various instruments and joining in on vocals. They paid homage to our country, and Williams pointed to the crowd as “the brave.”

We knew it was almost the end of the set when Williams asked if we were ready to sing along. This question ushered in the intro to the band’s biggest hit, Africa. Everyone jumped to their feet and the whole crowd was captivated by seeing one of their favorite songs played live.

Toto concert is jam-packed with talent. These musicians are some of the best to do it, and everyone should see them live at least once. Whether with Toto or on any of their other projects, every member has had a hand in some of the music you love. That is an impressive merit for one band. If you are a fan of music, you will love Toto. It’s safe to say that these “Old Dogz” have still got it.

All images © Reagan Johnson

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