A Tale of Two Cities: Toto, Live 1985

As thousands of students filed into G. Rollie White Coliseum on the campus of Texas A&M University on a cool March evening, you could feel excitment in the air. T-shirts and other parephenalia were being snapped up quickly, the beer line was long, the girls were scantily clad and TOTO was about to hit the stage in less than an hour.

The band had just released, Isolation, its first LP since their megahit TOTO IV and the first with new lead singer Fergie Fredericksen, who had replaced Bobby Kimball. I had made the trip from college in Beaumont, TX and, as a fan since the first album, I was really looking forward to this show. After having to endure opening act, John Parr (Naughty, Naughty), TOTO finally hit the stage and proceeded to kick ass.

The crowd was on its feet for most of the night while the band ripped through classics like “Rosanna,” “Hold the Line,” “Africa,” and “I’ll Supply the Love.” Keyboardist David Paich was so enamored with the crowd that at the end of the show he said “whenever anyone asks me where I’m from, I’m going to say College Station, TX.” If you know anything about College Station, the crowd went nuts. Then one week later….the band played at The Summit in Houston. What a difference a week makes.

The show in College Station blew me away, so I figured I would buy a ticket to the Houston show. We got there about 45 minutes before showtime and I literally said to the person with me “are we in the right place?” It looked and sounded like we were walking into a funeral home. You couldn’t find a hint of excitement anywhere.

We finally walk into the arena and see it is set up for “half-house configuration.” I thought it was great because the band will be close. Well, I ended up being about four rows back because about 500 people showed up. The Summit held 16,000.

I felt bad for the band, but to their credit, they had the same energy and put on the exact same show they did in College Station. True professionals. Fredericksen said “we know it’s not a big crowd, but we’re glad you’re here.” I didn’t care who was there. I got to see one of my favorite bands in the fourth row, so thanks to the more than four million Houstonians who stayed away. You made my night.

Check out our exclusive interview with TOTO lead singer Bobby Kimball.

TOTO Official Website

Fergie Fredericksen MySpace page

MP3: Stranger in Town (from Isolation)

MP3: Carmen (from Isolation)

YouTube: How Does It Feel (from Isolation)

YouTube: Soundcheck 1985

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