Looking forward to ‘Africa’
A good number of beloved rock classics lend themselves to lush orchestral arrangement in lieu, or on top, of the original electronic instrumentation.
It is an opportune time to recall that, in late 1990, after vocalist Bobby Kimball left his original band, he released a live album, “Classic Toto Hits,” with the Frankfurt Rock Orchestra.
Kimball is in town for a series of shows, “Rock Legends: Live,” with Kenny Cetera and homegrown talents Paula Bianca and The Zoo band (Oct. 10, Grand Ballroom, Solaire Resort and Casino; Oct. 12, Garden Ballroom, Edsa Shangri-La Manila).
The collection with the FRO features 12 chart listers, on top of which are familiar and romantic Filipino favorites “Rosanna,” “I’ll Be Over You” and “I Won’t Hold You Back.”
It has to be said that, of all 12 Toto hits, it is “Africa” that not only sits well with violins; it practically requires a symphonic musical setting.
Needless to say, FRO rose to the challenge in the landmark 1990 collaboration. How Kimball will render the revered composition by former bandmates David Paich (keyboards, vocals) and Jeff Porcaro (drums) may be the highlight of this week’s shows.
“Africa,” after all, is one of Toto’s most recognizable songs (from the 1982 album “Toto IV”) and landed the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in February 1983.
Meeting the local press late last week, Kimball sounded nothing if not confident about his impending performances. (He was more concerned about his waylaid luggage).
“I have never stopped touring,” he said. “I have about two million miles with United Airlines.”
He was more than confident, as well, about The Zoo band as his backup musicians: “Can’t go wrong with these guys.”
Which probably means the challenge of “Africa” will have to be met just as squarely by the local group that used to have Journey’s Arnel Pineda as frontman.
For a sneak peek, Kimball performed one number, “Rosanna” for the Manila media men. His way of saying that everything else will have to be a surprise.
At the same gathering, Kenny Cetera, younger brother of the original Chicago band’s Peter Cetera, gave his own preview for the press, crooning a Pinoy radio staple, “If You Leave Me Now.”
Later asked if he would say he had the same vocal range as his famous sibling, Kenny replied, “Technically, I cannot be specific, but we’ve done shows together, singing in one key.”
Promoter Danee Samonte of Steve O’Neal Productions has released a local version (in limited edition) of Kimball’s project with FRO. Maybe the performer, sprightly and ebullient in his mid-60s, will sign copies at the concert venues.
(Call 6338888 loc. 2895.)