Tesla have long been one of the best Rock and Roll bands going and they are a dose of the pure stuff when it comes to music. They were celebrating the release of their covers album at the Nokia Theater and we made sure to be inside as well to tell you about it. Scroll past the logo below to see our thoughts and images from the gig.
Venue: Nokia Theatre (New York, NY)
Opener: Poets and Pornstars
Label: Tesla Electric Company Records
While the historians know that the man Nikola Tesla was a genius who brought worlds of ideas to the realm of physics and electrical engineering as well as introducing a whole score of other inventions, the rock fans know that the band bearing the same name has continually brought the world some incredibly rocking tunes. For years they have delivered the goods when it came to solid songwriting and clever guitar riffs and while they have sometimes been thought of as a Heavy Metal band based on their launching during the big hair eighties, the end result of Tesla music is much more along the lines of Blues-based Hard Rock. Their first album “Mechanical Resonance” was met with fantastic response and found them opening up for bands like Poison, David Lee Roth and Def Leppard. The momentum for the group was on a steady rise but it was not until they delivered their “Five Man Acoustical Jam” album that they became a household name. The album was unique for it’s time as it found the band not only in a live performance but they were doing their own material and covers acoustically. Such a practice was not yet as common as we find today, and this concert CD and VHS tape gave the band a blockbuster hit with their rendition of the Five Man Electrical Band’s classic “Signs”. After a couple of other albums the band took a hiatus only to return in 2002 with another live album called “Replugged” and a promising new studio effort called “Into The Now”. The band toured as expected for the release and then returned to the studio to record their covers album. This practice has really started to become both an interesting as well as an annoying trend as some bands hit the mark dead on while others miss horribly. Fortunately for the worlds Tesla fans their own attempt at this premise was a really good go at some unexpected classics. The tour soon followed and the band made their way to NYC for a show at the incredible Nokia Theatre.
As I arrived at the venue I realized that I missed the opening band Poets & Pornstars, but without hearing them prior to the show or having any other background on them I hardly cared. Tonight I was here to enjoy Tesla and everything else would be secondary for when I reviewed my mental list of shows seen across the years, it seemed as though to my best recollection that I had NEVER seen this band in concert. This really surprised me since I had been a fan for quite a few years but tonight we could add them to the list. The place was jam packed and since the Nokia Theatre holds a couple of thousand people that’s a nice crowd for a band to have waiting for them to Rock. Tesla’s return to the city would find them with “Reel To Real” as their new album which ended up being covers from the sixties and seventies. There were quite a few interesting numbers on the CD but fans who bought it would be surprised to find that while the packaging had room for two CD’s, the item was a single disk. The fans would need to purchase a ticket for the concert to get the second CD of music so the idea of completing the collection was also high on my mind tonight. The band got to the business of their brand of Bluesy Rock and Roll as soon as they hit the stage but since they are not one of those groups who run all over the place during a set this would be more about the music than the visuals. Their stage setting was rather sparse and limited to amps and a projection of a reel to reel player. Singer Jeff Keith still sounds great and was hitting all the notes in the songs I remembered well from their catalog and outside of their guitarist Tommy Skeoch, who had left the group officially in 2006, all the rest of the members, are originals. Skeoch was replaced by Dave Rude and he was definitely doing well tonight as the bands second axe slinger and was able add some added life to that which Frank Hannon was doing on the other end of the stage.
Hannon really needs no assistance on guitar but having the two of them makes the material sound just a little bit bigger. The guitar player was enjoying himself tonight and showed his appreciation to the crowd by hurling his guitar picks into the audience by the fistful. He had to go through a couple of hundred of them tonight without question. On the music side of the show this was really a great event and one that found the audience singing most of the bands songs along with them. However what surprised me was the minimal use of material from the new studio album. I had expected a lot more than three of the tracks from this to be delivered but instead the band mixed it up by visiting all of their releases and performing the equivalent of a greatest hits show. Songs like “Love Song” and “Modern Day Cowboy” had the crowd at their own vocal best and when the band did their version of “Thank You” there were times when you could have heard a pin drop. A UFO was sighted as they did some justice to that bands classic track “Rock Bottom” which found Mr. Hannon doing his best Michael Schenker for us. They made their dedication to Steve Clark for “Song And Emotion” which I still find a nice touch for them and just as the evening was getting close to an end they gave us their blockbuster rendition of “Signs”. It’s really the song that put these guys over the top and while it might be annoying to be associated you’re your version of another bands song, this same formula worked for Quiet Riot. The band would end their set tonight with “Edison’s Medicine”, and this number just rocks in the live sense. When the set list they did tonight was compared to my own mental list of Tesla favorites I had to say that they got to all of the tunes that I wanted to hear even though I would have liked to see a couple more tracks from the new release presented.
With the show over I went to go get my copy of the albums second CD but since I had been given complimentary tickets for the purpose of review I was denied the thing. Of course I could hardly complain but when I found out that anyone who had received their tickets free from contests on the Internet or radio or even had discounted via Ticketmaster were finding the same thing out I felt that this was no longer a good idea. With bands looking to move their music in whatever fashion they can these days I felt that this was not handled with enough advance thought. As opposed to denying people and making them feel left out as many were by not having “full price tickets” – this should have been made an officially sanctioned download on the bands website. Doing so would have increased their web traffic to the site and perhaps even found a larger level of interest in some of the other releases they have available. Discounted tickets or free ones, the people who were here tonight all wanted to be here and that certainly amounts to something at the end of the day. This was a really great show and I was glad I was able to attend it. The band is definitely due for some sort of comprehensive anthology release at this point and let’s hope they get around to delivering one.
2. Mile Away
3. Walk Away
4. Modern Day Cowboy
5. Hang Tough
6. Freedom Slaves
7. Love Song
8. What You Give
9. Heaven 911
10. Thank You
11. Rock Bottom
12. Song And Emotion
13. Heavens Trail
14. Into The Now
15. Comin’ Atcha Live
17. Edison’s Medicine
Official Web site: www.teslaband.com