It's been a couple of years since I last saw Tesla (also at The Chance in Poughkeepsie where they played this past Monday Night), but well over a decade since I've seen them electrically rock!
The last tour I caught was the Five Man Acoustical Jam Anniversary Tour where the boys pretty much recreated that huge album of the 90's (which featured one of their two huge hits, their cover of "Signs"). It was a jam packed house on a Saturday night and it was great, but I missed the plugged in guitars, so I was happy to see them heading back to town to rock us right.
Wasn't sure what the turnout would be since it was a Monday night this time, but Poughkeepsie loves their Tesla and while not sold out, the place was full and partying.
I walked up as whoever was opening was finishing their set with a cover of "Come Together" done much more Aerosmith style than Beatles.
Hung out by the bar (I know you're shocked) and about 20 minutes later The Leo Project came on. It was maybe than 20 seconds later when I was praying the Leo Project would get off. It was your standard by the numbers alt-rock...everyone in the band can play adeptly and the singer can do a good Creed/Nickelback (he probably KILLS on Karaoke nights) and there is just nothing there to get excited about. The most memorable tune they played was their penultimate when they waged war on our ears with a rocked up version of Mister Mister's "Broken Wings"....yes they covered Mister Mister...I was praying if they played another song it would be perhaps an equally awful "Kyrie" but no such luck, they did an original then got off stage after 45 minutes or so...
Half hour or so and the lights go down and here comes Tesla. Four of the five original members (with missing Tommy Skeoch's second guitar duties very ably filled by Dave Rude) and they open with the title track off their new album "Forever More."
I don't have Tesla's newest and this track wouldn't make me buy it. Tesla are a great commercial rock band and I mean that the finest way...while they came during of the 80's hair scene, they are much more rooted in 70's rock in look, sound and attitude. I always thought they were much more Blackfoot and Black Crowes than Blackie Lawless and WASP. So this first song which is adequate, just didn't have the hook their other great songs do...
The opening track would be my only disappointment of the night though (other than the songs they DIDN'T play)...they actually followed up their opener with "I Wanna Live" which is the first single off their new album...now this one is a catchy rockin toe tapper...but please Tesla...don't be one of those bands that plays 9 of their 10 new tracks and leaves off the classics from the setlist...nope...not Tesla
If you were a rock band in the late 80's, you had to have your "cowboy" song and Tesla did it with "Modern Day Cowboy". This was my first taste of Tesla back in the day and it opens with a flurry of notes that everyone in the audience recognized and the serious rocking commenced! This is what we came to see! Another new tune "Breaking Free" followed into "Hang Tough", the first single off of Tesla's multi platinum second album "The Great Radio Controversy". The audience was eating out of their hand and went to new heights when the blues crunch beginning of the follow up to "Hang Tough" started - "Heaven's Trail (No Way Out)" with the audience singing along especially the "I'm on a slick trip, I'm always ready TO....KICK....ASSSSS!" part! Woooo Friggin Hoooo...I probably threw some devil horns at this point....
Time to take it down a little with "Call It What You Want" off Psychotic Supper (their fourth album and I think the last one I bought new) followed by a bit of a deep track off their debut (Mechanical Resonance) "We're No Good Together" oddly the couple next to me were slow dancing to this one!
A powerful "Shine Away" was next right into the HUGE audience fave/singalong "Song and Emotion". At it finale two acoustic guitars were set up on stands center stage and while the rest of the band exited the two guitarists (Rude and Frank Hannon) stayed. Everyone was expecting "Love Song" (maybe even a bigger charted hit than "Signs"?) but instead we were treated to Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing" with Hannon on great vocals (He also sang backup for Jeff Keith all night who was in strong form). "Little Wing" sequed perfectly into the acoustic opening of "Love Song" as the rest of the band came back on stage and this was the lighter held high singalong of the night!
I thought that would be the end of the first set, but the band instead played their soon to be released single "Fallin Apart" which is again what Tesla do best - a catchy rockin rock radio (does that exist anymore?) friendly song.
Even with the newer material, the crowd never let go or wavered, but when "What You Give" started up, so did the roar of cheers. The madness continued with "Into The Now" and then came the final blow, the insanely rocking "Comin' Atcha Live"...oh hells yes...this is probably my fave and me head was a banging! Phew!
The band said their thanks and the crowd asked for more so after 5 minutes they came back out and noodled about for a bit on Led Zeppelin's D'yer Mak'er (and I think I heard a little "I Don't Need No Doctor" in there too...hmm...maybe they are like WASP who did a cover of that Humble Pie classic) before launching into another huge singalong, the you knew they had to play - "Signs". More goodnights and that was it!
Damn near a two hour show (and hot as all hell - it's been in the/close to the 90's here this week...in NY...In APRIL?!?) I was sweaty and bushed and ready to go, but suprised and bummed not to have heard "Little Suzi" (Their very first single and also a huge fave) and "Gettin' Better" but I can't complain, most Mondays in Poughkeepsie aren't this good.