Friday, 21 November 2008

Concert Review: Bobby Kimball of Toto (Manila)

Bobby Kimball

I’ve always been a big, big fan of 1980s rock band Toto.  However, for the past 16 years, I’ve never watched their Philippine concerts though, the last held April 2-3 at the Cebu Waterfront Hotel and Araneta Coliseum respectively.  Naturally, I felt bad when Toto split up again a few months after the fact.  

But imagine my surprise when Toto founder and lead vocalist Bobby Kimball blew into town to do a series of solo Philippine concerts.  I and my son Jandy, another Toto fan, decided we won’t miss out on this one especially with the Mirror as one of its media sponsors.  It seems others had the same thing in mind as the 2,750-seat Aliw Theater, the new (opened October 2007) centerpiece of the Star City carnival complex and the country’s hottest new concert venue, was filled to the rafters with a sell-out crowd consisting mostly of the post-Baby Boomer generation (the young once) but also with a sizable group of young ones, all wanting to stroll down the rock music memory lane.    
Kimball sang as a vocalist in various area bands in New Orleans throughout the 1970s before he moved to Los Angeles in 1977and founded Toto with accomplished session musicians Steve Lukather (vocals/guitar), David Paich (keyboards), Jeff Porcaro (drums), David Hungate (bass guitar) and Steve Porcaro (keyboards).  The band’s September 1977 debut album immediately broke into the charts with the hit single, “Hold The Line,” as well as “Georgy Porgy,” “I’ll Supply The Love” and Bobby’s self-penned audition song “You Are The One.” 

Toto ultimately won international acclaim and went on to garner nine Grammy nominations (winning seven including “Best New Artist”).  However, Kimball left Toto in 1984, relocated to Germany and South America and resumed work as a session singer, performing background vocals for various artists, and played in Sao Paulo (Brazil), Los Angeles and Moscow.  

He rejoined the group in 1989, recording songs for Past to Present 1977-1990, its landmark greatest hits album. In 1990, Kimball left the band again, released a live album (Classic Toto Hits) in late 1990 and followed it up in 1994 with Rise Up, his debut solo album featuring the single “Woodstock.”  In 1998, he rejoined Toto and actively participated in the band’s numerous studio recording sessions and concert tours.  Toto officially disbanded on June 5, 2008.
The author with Bruce Conte, Bobby Kimball and Joe Lamont
Presented by Steve O’Neal Productions and BDS All Hits Productions, this first major solo Philippine concert of Bobby Kimball, the centerpiece of the Philippine leg (including stints in Bacolod City and Cebu City in the Visayas and Cagayan de Oro City, Davao City and General Santos City, Tagum City in Mindanao) of the 14-date, 13-city 2008 Grand Asian Tour ,was opened by the good looking Joe Lamont who sang his signature song "Victims of Love" (which also hit the airwaves and karaoke joints in the 1980s) plus “Can’t Live” and “Broken Dreams.” 

Besides writing songs and producing artists, Joe also promotes concerts worldwide. This 30-minute icebreaker heralded the arrival of Bobby with Bruce Conte’s (original guitarist of Tower of Power) band as backup. This hour-long performance met all expectations as Bobby sang my favorites “Rosanna,” “99” and “Hold the Line,” plus the other classic Toto hits “I Won’t Hold You Back,” “I’ll Be Over You,” “Anna,” “Georgy Porgy” (with Wowowee host Willie Revillame at drums) as well as the original Led Zeppelin hit “Stairway to Heaven”  plus guitar solos by Bruce.  

The show ended with the encore songs “Africa” and “Lucille.” To cap it all, Jandy had a personally autographed Bobby Kimball CD (with Bruce’s autograph thrown in for good measure).  I, for my part, couldn’t resist a photo op with Bobby, Bruce and Joe Lamont which the guys gladly provided.  What an evening!

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