Hot damn! What a great surprise this show was!
I've seen Tesla at least a dozen times in the past three decades or so and they are always somewhere between good and great live depending on that night's setlist, so I should have hopped right on this one to see what guitarist Frank Hannon does on his own, but that was not to be...until some last minute plans changed and my buddy had an extra ticket. He called and said Frank was hitting the main stage at the Chance at 10pm (moved from their smaller upstairs venue, The Loft) and hell, it was Saturday and hopefully it would be good.
We walked in right at 10 and had about ten minutes to grab a beer, check the merch table and say hi to a few other friends in attendance. Then Frank himself welcomed the crowd and the curtain went up for over two hours of simply great music.
Frank's band is a power trio featuring Aaron Leigh on bass and Kelly Smith on drums that does not stay strictly within the confines of rock. The small crowd (Frank has played numerous sold out shows with Tesla at The Chance, but on this night the crowd was less than a hundred. Frank joked - or maybe not a joke- that two fans up front were the only two in attendance at his first solo show there and with the improvement in the size of this crowd, that by the time he was 80, he'd be selling out the place himself!) was fully engaged and there was a great connection between band and audience that had them play a very long set as we all wanted more.
How long? The set ran about 2 hours and 15 minutes.
I thought it would be filled with Tesla covers (I did not realize how many solo albums Frank has), but actually the only Tesla cover came during the acoustic set (The show was about 70 minutes electric, then 30 acoustic, then last 30 or so electric again) when he played the 90 second acoustic intro to "Love Song."
That's not to say the show was short on covers. One of the best was a nod to one of the greatest power trios of all time when they covered "Working Man" off Rush's debut album. Sweet! Throw in some Johnny Cash, James Gang, Santana, classic blues and snippets of Led Zeppelin, Parliament Funkadelic, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Montrose and some amazing standards including a beautiful version of the instrumental "Sleep Walk," the 1959 hit by Santo and Johnny that you all know even if you don't recognize the name. Go ahead and youtube it...we'll be here when you get back.
Most of the show concentrated on Frank's solo work, especially his newest album "World Peace" of which he played 9 of the 13 tracks. Now reading that, I know what you might be thinking. "Ugh! I go to see the guy from Tesla and he plays his whole new album I don't know!" I've been to plenty of unfortunate shows like that where the new material was crap, but this show was the exception. I didn't know any of this material going in and it's just catchy killer rock (from hard to southern to acoustic to guitar jammy.) Frank is the singer as well as guitarist and has a great voice. I was totally blown away and then add in the cool mix of covers and standards from as far back as the '20's and I'm telling you this show was as good as any Tesla show I've ever seen (and better than quite a few).
Here's the setlist:
- Born Free
- The Picture
- New York City
- World Peace
- Train / Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash) / Brand New Shoes ("Train" is all I wrote down. I know it was a cover but I'll be damned if I remember which "train" song he did)
- Love Is Like A Fire
- Electric Chair
- Working Man (Rush)
- Sleep Walk (Santo & Johnny)
- Mobius Flip
- Love Song (Tesla - acoustic intro Only
- Gypsy Highway
- Cocaine Blues (Luke Jordan via Keith Richards version)
- Instrumental (didn't know this one)
- Heavy Metal Hippie
- Montrose snippet (A guy in the pit was wearing a Montrose shirt and the band kicked into about a minute or two of a tune for him when his buddy yelled out "Montrose!"
- Down The Road
- Funk #49 (James Gang cover but so much more. Opens it playing the solo from Led Zeppelin's Heartbreaker right into the intro/main riff of Funk #49 and then the band jammed out on this throwing in bits of Red Hot Chili Peppers "Give It Away", Parliament Funkadelic's "Thank You" and "We Got The Funk", Some of that Peter Frampton tube guitar talking thing...just an epic jam)
- Sweet Southern Sound
- Electric Warriorz
- Hope You're Feeling Better (Santana)
- Eye of the Mind
I caught a pick during the performance and after the show Frank and the band came out to meet the fans and I got another one...so guess what gang...
*****CONTEST TIME! *****
Win Frank Hannon's Guitar Pick and Photo (your choice) From The Show!
My contests are easy. Go to this link to the MostPeopleAreBlank Facebook page and simply click Like on the page (not the photo set or any of the pictures - Like the actual page so you're following us). That makes you a follower of the page and you are now entered into the contest. If you're already a member of the page then just like this posting or post a comment or shoot me a message and I'll enter you as well, contest is not just open to new members. In a week or two I'll randomly draw a name and that person will get the guitar pick as well as a photo I took at the show (If you win and have a favorite, let me know which one). No cost to the winner, I'll pop it in the mail so it doesn't get messed up and pay the postage. Just a thank you to the readers!
Now not included in the contest is this Tesla setlist I've had from one of the aforementioned sold out shows Tesla has played at the Chance. I dig the phonetic spelling of Poughkeepsie at the top. Frank was nice enough to sign this and it is now framed on my wall.
Below are a ton of pics from the show. Click on any of them to super size view them. I can't stress enough how much you should go see The Frank Hannon Band on this tour. I know next time they pass through I'll definitely be back. If you dug this or want to enter the contest for the Guitar/Pick and photo just go click Like the Facebook page to enter and as always Rock on and Enjoy! - Paul