October 31, 2009
Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom – Hampton Beach, NH
Reviewed by: Mary Ouellette
As I headed out for the trek to Hampton Beach to see Tesla I realizes that this may be the only band in history that would draw three generations from my family to their show. My aunt and uncle, myself, and my cousin who is younger than me by a good decade all headed out to the show in what has become a bit of an annual ritual for our family. To further add to the ambiance of the show, it was Halloween and the last show of the tour on the Eastern leg, before we even hit the door we knew we were in for a treat…or would it be a trick…
Opening the show were Michigan rockers Pop Evil who are fresh off their debut album Lipstick On The Mirror. Pop Evil (Leigh Kakaty on lead vocals, Dylan Allison on drums, Dave Grahs on guitar, Tony Greve on guitar, and Matt DiRito on bass) started the show off right with a kick to the groin and a punch to the face of unadulterated, pure, rock and roll. It’s great to see Tesla introducing some new rock to their old school fans. It’s important to cultivate the music community and keep rock alive and these guys were definitely alive – bouncing off of their stacks and rocking out with metal horns held high, I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more from this band in the future.
By the time Tesla hit the stage the crowd was packed with hookers, pirates and thieves…literally. (I told you it was Halloween!) As the stage started to fill with smoke the band (Jeff Keith on vocals, Frankie Hannon on guitar, Brian Wheat on bass, Troy Luccketta on drums and Dave Rude on guitar) stormed the stage and went right into Forever More – the title track off of their latest studio album. Jeff Keith attacked the stage dressed from head to toe as one of his beloved Oakland Raiders (A brave move in New England Patriots territory – but I admired his passion nonetheless!) and sang a song or two from beneath his football helmet.
The band seemed like they were in rare form from the beginning notes of Forever More until two hours later when they finished off the night with a full on jam version of Free Bird. I can’t remember the last time I saw a band play with that kind of energy for two hours straight. It was by definition the ultimate rock show. Not only did they rock out for two hours, they had a blast doing it. Jeff Keith wore a smile from ear to ear from beginning to end and Rude, Wheat and Hannon often took center stage for double and triple axe and bass attacks. Although sometimes it was hard to see Troy behind the flying drumsticks, we definitely heard him loud and clear.
When a band has had the kind of success and longevity that Tesla has had, often times fans want to bybass the new songs in favor of hearing the old. Such is not the case with Tesla who keeps churning out release after release of timeless, solid, bluesy based rock songs that would satiate even the hungriest of rock appetites. With that in mind, they played through several of the songs off of their new album without losing a soul. The crowd couldn’t have been more into it from moms with their sons to first timers to those that never miss a show, the diversity of the crowd was awe-inspiring proving that music truly does transcend all outward appearances. The crowd was in full sing-a-long mode throughout much of the set that covered everything from 1986’s Mechanical Resonance to the present day Forever More, from Modern Day Cowboy to Fallin’ Apart. When Dave and Frankie busted out their acoustics we all knew it was Love Song time, ..proving that really…love is all around you…in the form of 1000 sweaty Tesla fans.
I hate to keep saying that Tesla has been around for awhile but the truth is, they have. Please don’t mistake my admiration for an insult though, it’s just that in today’s music industry bands are churned out with cookie cutter ease and only the strong survive. Tesla proved from the start that with strong songwriting, unmeasurable musicianship and bandmembers who genuinely love what they’re doing, the strong can not only survive but thrive.
View the Tesla Photo gallery here
View the Pop Evil gallery here