A Summer's Day - TOTO, Dragon and Jefferson Starship
Church Road Winery
Thursday, January 10
Reviewed by Astrid Austin

As the drum beat to Africa rang out, more than 8000 voices responded, singing the distinctive "ba baba ba-ba-ba baaa" keyboard riff.

It was the moment everyone had been waiting for since the gates opened five hours earlier.

And while the culmination of 40 years of musical history had come to an end, Napier's Church Road Winery had come alive with Toto.

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Before the American rockers took to the stage, two heavyweights in their own right wowed the crowd.

Kiwi-born, Dragon are clearly a Kiwi favourite.

Having been on the New Zealand music scene since 1972, the four-piece lapped up the crowd's energy.

Lead singer Mark Williams may be 65, but like many of his counterparts, he acts like he's 30 years younger.

His throaty growl belted out the hits, including Still in Love With You and 1977's April Sun in Cuba while his band mates worked in perfect harmony.

Perhaps more internationally recognised than in NZ were Jefferson Starship. The California rockers delved into their back catalogue, losing a few.

But their chart-topping and recognisable We Built This City brought them back.

Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now, from the 1980s, and White Rabbit, from the late 1960s, also proved popular.

But fans were there to see Toto. For many of the 20-somethings, they wouldn't even have been a figment of their parent's imagination when the band made waves in the late 70s. Yet everyone had Toto's lyrics on their lips.

Without one word spoken, guitarist Steve Lukather and vocalist Joseph Williams walked swiftly on stage to the euphoric cheers of thousands, and the opening bars of Alone. Followed closely by band mates; Dom Taplin, Steve Porcaro, along with Lenny Castro, Warren Ham, Shannon Forrest, Shem von Schroeck and Dominique 'Xavier' Taplin.

With the first track complete, they dived straight into the Hold the Line, with the smack of the snare and the signature piano stabs

Despite some negative comments circulating after the gig, my experience was vastly different.

The venue was large, but still had an intimate feel and the congestion expected at concerts didn't detract from the night.

But what is expected to be front and centre most certainly was. The music outweighed everything and made for an enjoyable evening.