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Added by Central Electronic Brain     March 18, 2011    
 
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Steve Lukather - Robin 2, Bilston (UK) -  20th November 2010

Despite it's excellent sound and good reputation as a music venue, I've always found the crowd at the Robin 2 to be far too talkative and disrespectful during the performances, the recent heckling of John Waite by a couple of individuals who obviously love the sound of their own voices being a case in point, so it wasn't really surprising that an acoustic set by Frost*/Darwin's Radio frontman Dec Burke was mostly inaudible to all but the front few rows. Burke and his unnamed fellow acoustic guitarist (previously billed as Dec Burke and Jem Godfrey but his Frost* bandmate was a no show) battled bravely against the incessant chatter through a short set of songs from Burke's recent solo album 'Destroy All Monsters', but despite a polite smattering of applause after every song, any chance of a decent reception was non-existent. To be fair Burke sounded a bit strained and the songs didn't really work that well in the stripped down format, but I'll be very surprised if the background noise wasn't a major distraction for him.

After what seemed like a very long interval Steve Lukather and his supporting trio of Renee Jones (bass), Steve Weingert (keyboards) and Eric Valentine (drums) ambled onto the stage without much of a fanfare, Lukather himself with his familiar Music Man guitar bringing up the rear. To continue the low-key theme their tentative first notes eventually started to fall together into the intro of 'Darkness In My World', the opening track from the album he's currently promoting, 'All's Well That Ends Well'. One of his best ever solo songs, the gentle verse gives way to full-on riffs on the chorus and Lukather's voice sounds the same as ever, the song reaching a couple of crescendos whenever he goes off on a sublime guitar solo. The set continues in an unfussy way with both 'Always There For Me' from the 'Luke' album and 'Extinction Blues' from 'Candyman', neither song I can honestly admit to expecting but I was very grateful for both.

As it's his latest album he's plugging we get a huge slice of it tonight with 'On My Way Home' and 'Brody's' also coming early with the kind of jaw-dropping musicianship that Lukather and his band seem to handle so effortlessly. Of course no Lukather show would be complete without his bizarre between song banter and if he wasn't such a talented musician he could always try his hand at stand up comedy. At one point he stops mid-introduction to say to a woman at the front, "By the way, did you know that your boob has fallen out of your top?", and after she'd hastily re-adjusted herself he went on, "she's not speaking to me now! Look love, would you rather I hadn't told you?" The jazzy instrumental he wrote for Lee Ritenour, is an even better tale… "I wrote this song called '68' for Lee and he recorded it on his last album, then a while later he said to me, "Why is it called '68'? Is it something to do with the year 1968?" I said "No, it's about when your woman goes down on you and you fall asleep before you can repay the favour. That's a '68, you owe her one!"

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Getting back on track the brilliant 'Ever Changing Times' is just wonderful, but anyone hoping for Toto hits would probably have been getting bored after a brief but excellent keyboard solo was followed by another instrumental, 'Song For Jeff', which morphed into 'Don't Say It's Over' from the new album. The amazing instrumental 'Tumescent' included a skilful and quite amusing drum solo from Eric Valentine who was pretending to run on the spot whilst playing some incredible stuff, and the first major surprise of the evening was a real Toto obscurity. 'Out Of Love' was one of the four new tracks added to the greatest hits package, recorded during the swept-under-the-carpet Byron era. The 'Luke' song 'Tears Of My Own Shame' contained a snippet of Hendrix' 'Little Wing' and the set ended with perhaps the best track from the new album, 'Can't Look Back'.

For the first encore there was a wild jam on the upbeat 'Flash In The Pan' on which Renee Jones proved what a good bass player she is, and everyone else had a share in the spotlight, and after demands for another encore Luke came back alone with an acoustic guitar for a heartfelt solo run through of 'The Road Goes On' from Toto's lesser known 'Tambu' record. If anyone came along expecting a set of short commercial songs I guess they probably went away very disappointed, but to see musicians of this calibre mixing rock, jazz, pop and soul in an intimate setting, is pretty priceless. Put me down for the return trip this year!

Phil Ashcroft

Steve-Lukather-Live

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