Wow. I really have to hand it to TESLA. Outside of a SOFA KING show, the last time I saw them was opening for POISON back in … 1989? I’ve continued to pick up the discs along the way, but since I’m not a big fan of their popular sit down / acoustic format, I haven’t been rushing out to see them. Gotta admit, I was quite impressed! For starters, the 1200 capacity room was packed! I’ve seen many of their contemporaries play there, and most can’t sell half the tickets (at half the price, to boot!) Who knew?
As I had hoped, the band immediately launched into “Cumin’ Atcha Live.” It’s probably in my top 5 TESLA tunes, and one you can never go wrong with. It’s a perfect pacesetter and creates instant energy. Immediately I’m drawn to the “new guy,” curious to see how he handles the now classic material. And Dave Rude doesn’t disappoint, jumping right into the prolonged guitar duel, trading off leads with Frank as if he’s been there this whole time. He sounds great, and has the moves and look down cold. This is gonna be fun.
Quickly into the title track from the last album, and then it’s onto the first sampling of “Real to Reel”; JAMES GANG’s “Walk Away.” Good fun, and instantly has the place singing. Then it’s back to the early albums with three crowd favorites in quick succession. It occurs to me that Jeff Keith doesn’t age. He still looks and sounds like he did when he was 18. WTF? The crowd loves it by now, and the place is really heating up… Literally.
“Rock Bottom” is next. Anyone who knows me knows I love UFO, and Frank comes really close to nailing the Schenker tone, Flying V and all. I’m having a blast, but maybe they should do the studio version as opposed to the “Strangers in the Night” drawn-out live version. (I think you lost a few of the girls for a moment there.) A quick GUESS WHO cover and it’s time to cool things down a bit. A nice twin guitar acoustic segue leads us back into the TESLA staples. Actually, I was expecting a pretty full set of covers and was glad to see them mingled in with the originals. It gives a nice balance to the evening. Apparently the set list is pretty flexible, depending on which night you catch them - Very cool if you can see more than one show. One more left field turn for “Miles Away” from “Into The Now”, and then it’s straight out hits. There’s no fat in this set, just one great song after another. Closing with “Thank You,” the band take a sort of break before returning for 3 encores! Of course, they have to do “Signs,” but it sounds great electric and obviously fits right in with the covers theme. With a solid 2 hour set and a bonus “Reel 2” CD to take home, I can’t image anyone not being satisfied.
Catch them if you can. To be sure, it won’t be another 18 years before I see TESLA again.
Photos by Jennifer Bartram-Schmitt
See more photos in our gallery HERE
Jeff Keith – Vocals
Frank Hannon – Guitar
Dave Rude – Guitar
Brian Wheat – Bass
Troy Luccketta – Drums
Cumin’ Atcha Live
Into The Now
Modern Day Cowboy
Lazy Days, Crazy Nights
Hand Me Down World
(acoustic guitar solos)
What U Give
Song & Emotion
Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out)
I Just Wanna Make Love To You / Signs
Day Of The Eagle