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Our review of Toto: Falling In Between Live, published April 17th, 2008, is also available.
"You supply the night, baby, I'll supply the love."
The band Toto was formed in 1977 by a group of school friends who were also talented session musicians. The band is often categorized with the soft rock genre but their sound was drawn from pop, rock, soul, funk, progressive rock, hard rock, R&B, and jazz. They've also dabbled in film music, most notably the score for David Lynch's Dune. Rather than a band with a star frontman, Toto was an ensemble of musicians and their sound was the star. Over the band's 31-year life, individual members were replaced, retired and fired. The Falling In Between tour, from 2006 to 2008, turned out to be their last world tour before Toto disbanded for good in 2008. The group's founding musicians were inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in October 2009.
Toto: Falling In Between Live (Blu-Ray) records the March 26, 2007, concert at Le Zenith in Paris, France. Taking the stage are: Steve Lukather (one of the original members, "Luke" has played at every single gig) on guitars and vocals; Simon Phillips on drums; Bobby Kimball, vocals; Greg Phillinganes on keyboards and vocals; Leland Sklar (filling in for Mike Porcaro) on bass guitar; and Tony Spinner on guitars and vocals. The set list includes songs from their most recent album but it's predominantly a catalogue of their hits, now classics, from the 1980s:
• Falling in Between
Seeing and hearing Toto perform their hits to a sellout crowd is to witness seasoned, professional musicians at the top of their form. From the first beat to the last note, these guys put on a phenomenal show. While Luke and Bobby share lead vocals, no one dominates the spotlight. Solo time is also generously distributed so everyone gets a chance to shine without showing off. When it comes to audience favorites like "Rosanna" and "Africa," they change things up ever so slightly to keep these numbers sounding fresh while masterfully sustaining the fans' joy at hearing these well loved songs.
Director Blue Leach covers all the standard concert stage angles with his cameras and demonstrates considerable expertise for filming music. Screen time is shared pretty equally among the performers and the focus moves between them quite naturally. Camera moves and editing never feel rushed and the timing variations reflect the tempo of the music. The film has the right balance of wide shots showing the band in their space and close ups of the musicians working their instruments.
The Blu-ray transfer of this concert film is very good but it could have been excellent. The high-resolution 1080i picture reveals lots of fine detail. The glittery finish of Luke's guitars looks like fine pixie dust. There isn't a lot of light cast on the audience but even in the shadows you can make out the immense crowd. Seeing Leland's beard in sharp focus is evidence of how fine the picture can be but often the camera operators are just a beat behind the action when it comes to fixing their focus points. To be fair, it isn't easy to maintain focus on a moving subject while your camera is moving too. A more significant drawback to the video is the intensely bright lighting on the stage. This is a very well lit stage but, as far as the cameras are concerned, there is sometimes one spotlight too many. The highlights on the performers (especially when they're soloing) are overexposed and unfortunately this isn't corrected in the transfer to disc. At times it's annoying, like when half of someone's face is glowing, and other times it's distracting, like when Greg's white shirt looks like a supernova.
Eagle Rock Entertainment offers its usual three audio options on this Blu-ray release and it's one of the finest sounding concert movies I've heard. The PCM stereo mix is powerful with crisp percussion and strong vocals. If you prefer the surround audio tracks, the better option is the DTS HD mix, which gives a full presence to all channels. The vocals are kept to the front sound stage while the rear channels carry instrumentation, some sound reflection and keyboard effects. Audience noise also figures in the satellite speakers but it's minimized. This performance was also the occasion for recording Toto's final live concert album so this Blu-ray disc is essentially a true 5.1 mix of the concert.
In addition to almost two hours of music, there are 30 minutes of interviews with the band members, also in HD, recorded prior to the concert. What's great about these interviews is that they talk to the camera as they would to a fellow musician. Greg breaks down his part for "Rosanna" and shows how he moves between four different keyboards for the song. Luke does a show and tell of his collection of guitars then demonstrates the various pedal effects he uses during a performance. These interviews are a nice peek at the craft behind a big music show and fans will appreciate seeing these guys talk casually and lovingly about their experience in the band. Optional subtitles are available for the interview segments only.
For Toto fans who were denied a farewell concert, Toto: Falling In Between Live (Blu-ray) is a decent consolation prize. The music is strong and the concert film is very good. Despite the problems with the image, this Blu-ray release is a satisfying way to experience the band's final tour. The interviews add value to this title by letting the band members share something more than just fan service. Mainstream rock has developed a lot since Toto's heyday but great music by skillful musicians never goes out of style.
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Studio: Eagle Rock Entertainment
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