Toto and Michael McDonald In Concert
Show Date: August 22, 2014
Venue: Fox Theater – Atlanta, Georgia
Photo by Randy Patterson
If you ever want to insure that you will have a night of total musical bliss, then you must jump on the opportunity to catch Toto and Michael McDonald in concert. The legendary artists are amazing as standalone concerts. But, to have BOTH on the same stage? Son, you’re in for a real treat that you’ll never forget.
Toto took the stage first (they and McDonald alternate headlining on rotating nights) and blew the crowd away from the git go. Lukather’s guitar work was flawless (as always) and reminded the sold out crowd of nearly 4,700 fans exactly why he is considered one of the best guitarists on the planet. Fluid, fast and phenomenal, the crowd showered him throughout the night with praises of “Luke” (sounding like they were booing but everyone knows better).
Luke was joined by Toto’s original bassist, David Hungate, who walked the big strings steadily and flawlessly throughout the entire set. It’s great to see him with Toto again. On keyboards were the always amazing David Paich and Steve Porcaro, who are as fun to watch as they are to listen to. Joseph Williams’ vocal work was as strong as ever and it his notes with characteristic perfection. Replacing the departed Simon Phillips on drums was Shannon Forrest (playing on his birthday), who did an incredible job. Rounding out the vocals in superb fashion were the duo of Miss Jenny Douglas-Foote and Mabvuto Carpenter.
Together, they delivered all the top Toto hits from over the years, bringing the crowd to their feet and singing loudly and dancing enthusiastically to each one. The sound was great as was the venue. There’s nothing more ornate, beautiful and meticulously restored Fox Theater in downtown Atlanta. If you’ve never seen it, I encourage you to take one of their tours or to catch a show – any show – there. It’s incredible!
Two parts of the Toto set I want to highlight are: During the performance of “I’ll Be Over You”, Michael McDonald walked out on stage and joined Lukather on the vocals. That performance was worth the price of admission by itself. At the end of the Toto set, McDonald joined Toto again, this time for the Ice Bucket Challenge (see my rough video of it, below) to raise money for ALS. This horrid disease has hit pretty close to home to the band with their original bandmate, Mike Porcaro, currently battling it. This has led Toto to aggressively help raise money to help find a cure.
After the Ice Bucket Challenge, a brief intermission ensued to allow for McDonald to change and the crew to get his band set up for what would wind being a jam-packed approximately forty-five minute set.
And what a set it was!
From his Doobie Brothers days to his solo work as well as some of the stuff McDonald wrote and co-wrote for others, the prolific songwriter had the crowd on their feet and singing along the entire time. And Michael’s band? Boy howdy! Top-flippin’-notch, of course! Bernie Chiaravalle (McDonald’s long time guitarist) was nothing short of incredible, playing masterfully throughout the set. Michael’s long-time producer, Tommy Sims, played smoothly on bass and performed the monster hit he wrote for Eric Clapton, “Save The World”. Pat Coil backed up on keys and synth, with Mark Douthit knocking it out of the park on the sax. Dan Needham kept things steady on drums and the lovely Drea Rhenee’ provided beautiful and soulful backup vocals.
It wasn’t lost on me how gracious and edifying McDonald was while introducing each and every member of his group. Though clearly a legendary super star, he took the time to speak glowingly about each member of his band and how indebted he is to each of them. This kindness and graciousness extended to a handful of lucky fans who managed to catch McDonald at the stage door and asked for autographs and to stand for photos. The man didn’t leave for his tour bus until each and every one was taken care of.
Now THAT is class.
The end of McDonald’s set was marked by most of the members of Toto joining him on stage for several tunes together. Especially cool was Steve Lukather playing a moving instrumental version of “Amazing Grace”.
Needless to say, I loved both acts and would gladly see either or both of them any time – and as many times – in the future as I’m able to.
Yeah, they’re that darn good!
Rough Video of the Ice Bucket Challenge In Atlanta - Video by Randy Patterson