TOTO - Official Website - Concert Reviews

Amsterdam, Netherlands, 28 January 2001
This was the first concert in the Vantage Point tour, the day after the band touched down on European soil, but the playing showed no signs of jetlag! There was an incredible energy on display, for almost three hours! These guys gave it their all, yet managed to convey a sense of fun, and certainly enjoyment throughout.
Many of the audience went to see Simon, naturally, and they had a unique opportunity to see him play jazz. Great also that everyone was so close (and the kit so small!!) that you could really see how he was playing. Using a ride cymbal on each side, you saw true ambidexterity in all it's glory.
The set included many tracks from Vantage point (New Blooded, Vantage Point, Bewilderment, Dreamscape, Spirits of Trane), plus Freddie Hubbard material like "One of a Kind", through a Tony Williams track released on Bluenotes Records. Tony Williams has been a big influence on this band, and throughout Simon Phillips' career; I think he'd have been proud of this! "Spirits of Trane" (also Hubbard) closed proceedings in some style. Simon's solo at the end of that brought the house down. Fast, ferocious stuff, but never wavering too much from jazz roots, and never anything but perfectly controlled, and musical. Nice to see his drums shaking again, which they didn't do since '89, when the introduction of a rack anchored them firm! Good job, because The Who tour then must have been hard on those Tamas!
I saw Simon's clinic in Southend-on-Sea recently, and he switched off the PA at one point to demonstrate the tuning; the kit sounded wonderful. On this tour, he uses a "Mini-U.S.S Phillips", with only one, small kick, and four toms. I believe he also used the Gladiator snare, and a selection of Constantinople Zildjian rides and hi-hat. Again, it just gives a different musical voice, but the technique is equally distinctive, of course! Simon is the consummate professional; this was evident from the other musicians' reaction to him. Much of the set included improvisation, but all were happy to complement the others' playing without ever intruding. And Simon watched Dave Carpenter's solo so closely, maybe a change of direction is on the cards (is it true he played bass on a track by The Corrs, as the sleeve notes credit him with?)!
"One of a Kind" opens with a piano solo from Jeff Babko. Whilst it was progressing, Walt indicated to Simon that he needed a drink. The maestro signalled clearly to the technicians that a round of beers would go down very nicely, thank you! Unfortunately, Jeff was so engrossed in his playing he hadn't seen this. So, when the hall erupted in laughter, he jumped up, asking "What the @#$% is going on?!". This was one of several lighter moments in the evening, and these guys clearly enjoy playing together. Whether the audience went on spec just to see jazz, or went as drummers to be educated, noone left disappointed. To see five excellent musicians grooving like this is a special treat. To see one of the world's finest leading a band like this, and having so much fun is inspiring!
The band: Walt Fowler, trumpet, flugel horn; Brandon Fields, tenor, soprano; Dave Carpenter, bass; Jeff Babko, piano; Simon Phillips, drums.

Hi, I'm Paul from Holland and I was at the first session of The Vantage Point Tour in Europe, in Holland that is. It was the first time I saw a member of Toto, and I was very excited to go to this concert. It was even better than I could ever expect, Simon drummed like I never heard before, so fast and so many different styles within jazz.
The other musicians were also very good, there was Dave Carpenter on the acoustic bass, I think he played so intense he must have had bleeding fingers at the end. Then there was Jeff Babko on the piano; he danced across the keys while his whole body was participating in the improvisations he performed. There were also 2 other guys playing trumpet, bluehorn, altsax and tenorsax and they made the music even smoother.
Off course Simon was the one most people came for and naturally, he was in the spotlights a good part of the playing time.
The audience was continuously looking at eachother saying: why can't I follow him while I hear these drumnotes; I hear something but how is he doing it?
Well, I really enjoyed this performance, it's something new in the world of jazz, I think, and it's gonna be a succesful tour, no doubt about that.
Simon Phillips
Graz, Austria, 11 February 1998
Yes, yes, yes! It was a fantastic performance! Simon and the boys - especially Andy Timmons did a powerful gig. I cannot believe that Simon was tired (see the interview part 2). He did a great solo with all kind of his unbelievable artistic drumstyle. Hopefully we see Simon next time again!

Rubigen, Switzerland, 6 February 1998
After the Symbiosis-concert a year before Simon's Band returned to Rubigen (a small village in Switzerland) because Simon loves this very special place they played in. The special event this night was Simon's birthday. Right after his unbelievable solo the crew presented a huge birthday cake to Simon, the band came back on stage for a birthday jam. They played "Tequila", Simon took the rhythm. I guess nobody had ever before seen Jeff Babko play Trombone (not even Simon...) It was fantastic, as the concert anyway. It's unbelievable that Simon is playing even better anytime I see him, and that with 41 years. The show in Zurich the day before was also fantastic (of course), but only 300 fans attended the concert. And Jerry Watts was really ill, he played the bass sitting on a chair.
This tour has once again been a very satisfying time for me and my friends and I hope to see Simon the next time with Toto.
Simon Phillips
Oberhausen, Germany, 17 January 1998 /
Köln, Germany, 18 January 1998
I've been to both the concerts in Oberhausen (17/Jan/98) and Cologne (18/Jan/98) and have to say that, although they played the same set twice, it totally rocked. The second time was even better. They played for about 2 1/2 hours, 14 songs plus a 15-minute drum solo by the master of drums. Every song from the "Another Lifetime" and some of the "Symbiosis" highlights were featured in this breathtaking performance. Non-stop. OK, in Cologne they took a 10-minute break, because Simon kicked right through his right-foot bass, but otherwise... Jeff Babko performed actively and fantastically, as did Andy Timmons and Jerry Watson Jr. Wendell Brooks topped the performance with emotion-filled, chilling sax-lines, it was wonderful. I even thought of going a third time...
Friedrichshafen, Germany, 12 January 1998 /
Ludwigsburg, Germany, 14 January 1998
One year ago, when I first saw this band, I was blown away by the perfect interplay and the energy of their performance. Now they've even surpassed themselves. They performed a great mixture of new and older songs that spellbound the audience for more than two hours. The synchronisity between Andy Timmons and Wendell Brooks was simply incredible. Of course Simon demonstrated his unique abilities in a fabulous drum solo, but every musician was given several solos for showcasing their musical talent. And yet this band is a unity that completely harmonizes. The songs come across in a very dynamic way. The band doesn't cling to each and every note from the albums, they take the freedom to improvise and stretch out. There are so many highlights that it's hard to name any particular songs. "Kumi Na Moja" is certainly one of them. "Indian Summer", the last song of the regular set, made the enthusiastic audience freak out. The shows ended in "full speed" with the fast and rocking "You Restless Angel". A fantastic band, great tunes, cool grooves - I can only recommend to go out see them play.
Jerry Watts Wendell Brooks
Tokyo, Japan, 26 October 1997 /
Nagoya, Japan, 28 October 1997
Two weeks have passed since I saw their concerts and the excitement they gave to me still remains!!!
In both shows, they played full 9 tunes (!) from Simon's latest "Another Life Time" album, several from "Symbiosis" and "Force Majeure". The gig lasted for more than 2 hours and completely took my breath away. When gifted musicians make never ending efforts on working on their music, a miracle takes place.
I love to see those guys really love and enjoy their music. I was deeply touched with the chemical going on with amazing grooves and perfect harmony among the guys. Especially, in the song "Out of Blue", I could see the strong ties among those 5 guys as if they are one big creature.
Also I thrilled to the tunes with "strange time signature" like "Biplane to Bermuda", "Indian Summer", "Kumi Na Moja" etc. Needless to say, Simon's solo perfectly knocked me out, blew my head off that I couldn't even applaud for a long after when the solo was done. His arms and legs are incredibly independent as if they were controlled by four different brains under Simon's perfect command.
At the last part of the show in Tokyo, after an encore, can you guess what happened? Simon introduced a special guest Mr. Paul Gilbert (The guitarist of Mr. Big) and they played "El Becko", one of Simon's masterpieces in his Jeff Beck era. What a surprise!! How lucky I am!! Thank you very much, Simon and all the guys in the band, for letting me have the great moments. People in Europe are very lucky too because the band is going to tour over Europe again soon after new year's holiday. I would like to see them again. So Simon, please return to Japan again soon. I can't wait!!! I also would like to thank Petra & Mark for running such a great page.
Jeff Babko
North Sea Jazz Festival, The Netherlands, 13 JULY 1997
This concert opened the third day of the famous Jazz festival. It was the first time Simon had appeared at The Hague since 1980, then accompanying Stanley Clark. What a return! A packed auditorium saw a rousing version of Force Majeure open proceedings, followed by several tracks from the Symbiosis album. This is a truly gifted group of musicians who work very well together, and clearly enjoyed the grooves they were getting into. There were moments of inspired interplay between Andy Timmons and Wendell Brooks. And of course Simon was the driving force in the rhythm section, encouraging Bass player (name to follow), playing only his sixth show with the band, "...literally he had one rehearsal with us, then he was on the plane.", Simon explained. You wouldn't have guessed.
Highlights included Indian Summer, played to its full potential in 15/8 (check out "Party in Simon's Pants" by Los Lobotomys and "Dave's gone Skiing" by Toto for more of Simon's crazy time signatures...) and an incredible solo from the maestro himself. This combined snare rudiments (I'm still trying to emulate his rolls using four strokes on each hand from the time I saw him in Manchester), double bass drumming and incredible four-way independance.
This concert was very well received by an audience consisting of many Jazzers not just there to see Symbiosis. They were treated to an explosive all-round performance lead by a musical genious. My only complaint is that the organisers only allowed them a one-hour slot. I wish they could have seen him play "Protocol". At the Zildjian day in London 4 years ago my colleague, himself an accomplished drummer, announced "...I always set myself goals musically, but I may as well start from scratch because that just blew them all away."
Andy Timmons Jerry Watts
Vervier, Belgium, 9 July 1997
It's a great plesure to see big musicians.
A big performance.
Simon, do you remember the painting of Jeff??????
Andy you 're wonderful, terrific guitarist.
Thank you for this crazy night.
London, England, 18 February 1997
Wow, the gig was totally amazing. I couldn't believe it. Andy Timmons simply blew me away. He's a guitar god. I knew he is good but I didn't know he is that good!!!
The whole band was totally brilliant too! The improvising, playing, everything was perfect!!!
Amazing, I want to go again! I also meet Andy, and he is such a cool dude! Melodic and progressive music forever!
Lidköping, Sweden, 8 February 1997
I will just say one word... AMAZING!! I was on the symbiosis-gig in Lidköping, Sweden. It was the greatest day in my life. It was my birthday as well. I'm a drummer myself and I was totaly amazed by the masterdrummer Simon Phillips. After the gig I got a chance to speak with the band. I particulary remember me talking to the guitar-hero Andy Timmons. I got the autographs of all the members. As I said, the happiest day in my life.
Simon Phillips
Hamburg, Germany, 31 January 1997
On my program is Simon Phillips and band playing SYMBIOSIS at the Fabrik / Hamburg / Germany. 2.5 hours program.

The band:
On Drums: the glory sticking Mr. Simon Phillips
On Guitar: Andy Timmons (Dallas)
On bass: Jimmy Earl (Washington D.C.)
On Keyboards: Jeff Babko (L.A.)
On Horns: Wendell Brooks (Houston)

The feeling between Andy Timmons and Wendell Brooks was incredible. The band played older material (Protocol and Force Majeure) as well as from the present album SYMBIOSIS. The audience at the Fabrik already went crazy after only some minutes. There was a magic feeling in the air. The people were blown away. The band had to give several encores. When I say it was a terrific evening this would be an understatement. I saw a fantastic, amazing gig. Thank you to the band and to Simon.
Karlsruhe, Germany, 26 January 1997
Hey, this concert was the best one I've ever seen. Simon and the other guys were so cool and they played great. I liked it very much to hear/see Simon live at this place. His solo, their songs....very professional; Very cool; Absolutely tight; That's how I like good music. So I hope you enjoyed it like I did! See you next on Simon's gigs.
Andy Timmons, Jimmy Earl, Wendell Brooks
Wien, Austria, 23 January 1997
Hallo, Leute! Am 23. Jänner 1997 waren die Jungs im Wiener Rockhaus on stage! Es stimmt, was die anderen Konzertbesucher auf der ninetynine-page schreiben: Nach wenigen Proben war diese Band ganz toll zusammengespielt. Trotzdem ich Simon Phillips schon mehrmals live gesehen habe, war es das erste Mal, das er keinen absoluten Spitzentag hatte. Er kam mehrmals an diesem Abend an seine spielerischen (ja, die gibt es wirklich!) Grenzen. Doch schmälerte das nicht die Leistung und das Können der Musiker. Die Fans und ich waren sowieso begeistert.
Stuttgart, Germany, 20 January 1997
In the packed former Longhorn club, Simon and his band gave a fantastic show. They played for more than two hours an energetic set of songs from "Symbiosis" and from the Protocol album "Force Majeure". It was only the third concert of the tour and yet the band sounded as if they were already playing together for years. The concert was not a drumming show accompanied by some other instruments but a real band thing with great musicians. They played a mixture of Jazz/Rock/Fusion that not only appeals to musicians but also to music lovers in general. Of course there also was a brilliant drum solo from Simon that showed his versatility. It was a fabulous concert that ended with two encores that had been demanded by the enthusiastic crowd.
Simon Phillips, Jimmy Earl, Andy Timmons, Jeff Babko, Wendell Brooks