Guitarist Steve Lukather and singer Joseph Williams of Toto performing at the Pori Jazz Festival in Pori, Finland on July 20, 2019. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today / Click on the pic to view gallery
“How are you, man? Nice to meet you.”
Toto’s guitarist Steve Lukather, 61, with dark round sunglasses looks a young shy boy in the eyes, and so the boy looks away.
“Alright!” Steve smiles kindly.
“How do you spell that?”
Steve makes sure to get every letter right for the autograph in the first pages of the book titled The Gospel According to Luke, his autobiography of his years as the leader of Toto. After all, Jiri has bought the Finnish translation of the book at the bookstore in Pori, a city on the coast of western Finland, and where Steve and Jiri now are tete-a-tete on Saturday afternoon.
Jiri arrived at the store early. He is a fan of Toto, who’s the headliner of Pori Jazz Festival for Saturday.
There are many more fans like Jiri standing in the line, waiting for the autograph, which now extends well beyond the front door.
Soon there’s so much crowd at the store that a security guard is called in to block the entrance. There’s no more room.
In the evening, the sun is shining from the cloudless sky a few hours before Toto is scheduled to begin the set.
A man is holding a piece of paper that says: “I will buy a ticket.” Desperately he’s showing his request to every passerby in the street walking to the gates.
Saturday is sold out. The arena has been taken over by 27,000 spectators.
There’s undoubtedly no need to introduce Toto for our readers, but in short, they are American musical geniuses, a group labeled as playing easy rock—but in reality, very diverse exploring across genres—with over 40 years of experience.
“Africa” has been viewed on YouTube over 500 million times.
They’ve grabbed so many Grammys that I’ve lost count.
They’ve sold so many millions of records that there’s no need to go into details.
They were the studio band for Michael Jackson’s blockbuster, Thriller.
Perhaps, I got you there, perhaps not.
But I am about to tell you that Toto, who’s sadly entering a hiatus for an unspecified time after finishing up their 40 Trips around the sun world tour, took over the main stage of Pori Jazz festival and moved the masses unlike any other performer of the day.
“Hold the Line” sounded magnificent with Joseph Williams’ vocals that were tender yet powerful.
The song has unarguably one of the catchiest choruses of our times.
They soon followed with an incredible ballad, “I Will Remember,” with Steve Porcaro, one of Toto’s founders, on the keyboards.
“English Eyes” was an absolute banger with Steve Lukather’s harder guitar riffs taking the lead. The sound was crisp and sharp—and with all their practice with their respective instruments—they were able to keep constant contact with the crowd that was moving like crazy, almost running amok.
Soon it was time to put Shannon Forrest’s drums in the spotlight with an instrumental, “Jake to the Bone.”
“Rosanna” got an upgrade with a featuring horn section by the American jazz and funk collective Snarky Puppy.
Steve’s performance on Beatles cover “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” made the crowd sway silently while the melancholic melody swept them away.
And then Steve asked, “Are you ready for THAT song?”
The crowd cheered.
It was time for “Africa,” and the masses raised their cellphones to create a sea of light.