It had been a little more than three and a half years since Tesla came through the Daytona Beach-Orlando, Florida area. In 2019, they played the Peabody Auditorium in Daytona Beach. This May 5 and 6, they played the House of Blues in Orlando, located within fun-filled Disney Springs.
Tesla is a great touring band. The May 6 show in Orlando was no exception to the rule. They opened with a bang, Change in the Weather, followed by Modern Day Cowboy and Time to Rock. The close was equally strong as they finished the set with Love Song (a Billboard top 10) and Little Suzi.
The encore is another Billboard Top 10, their version of Signs by Ph.D. Tesla originally covered Signs in 1990. Their rendition has become such a part of the band's identity some think it is a Tesla original.
Throughout the setlist, there are Tesla classics such as Crazy Days and Crazy Nights and What You Give. Here is a cool thing. They changed up the setlist from one night to the next. Meaning folk who went to both shows at House of Blues heard the breadth of their 41-year career.
Tesla is ranked 22 in VH1s list of the '80s greatest glam bands. They are known as a thinking person's hair metal band for lyrics that ofttimes go beyond the typical sex, drugs and rock n roll. Not that there is anything wrong with those three topics.
For the uninitiated, Tesla songs can be about a life well lived, as in the aforementioned What You Give, being a man, in a song titled, well, Be a Man, and the ravages of war in Pvt. Ledbetter. All delivered with a good time rock n roll feel and no tone of demagoguery or finger waving. Rather, the songs come off as thoughtful.
The crowd at House of Blues at the May 6 show was a tad more rowdy than you'd expect for the age demographic. Remember, the band has been around for four-plus decades, meaning the crowd tends to reflect four-plus decades as well. That's why it was a bit of a surprise that the guards needed to step in more than the norm at a concert. Luckily, no mosh pit broke out. :)
House of Blues Orlando lacks panache. There doesn't seem to be character to the place. A comparable venue in Orlando would be Hard Rock Live Orlando. The Hard Rock has a better feel to it.
However, the band was, as always, spot-on.
Lead singer Jeff Keith was in great voice. So good I wondered if he was using some tracking voice effect. He did not step on a floor pedal as some singers do. I thought maybe the sound tech was adding effects. I confirmed through two professional musician friends that he might be using an effect. "It is possible to have fx built into the board mix," one friend said. The other commented, "Yes certainly possible there was voice enhancement. Hard to tell without actually hearing it though." Both friends are anonymous so as not to publicly insinuate a colleague of his/hers might be using a voice effect. In 2017 Mr. Keith was quoted in Bravewords as saying they don't use backing tracks. "As far as our old motto of 'no machines,' we still don't play with backing tracks like a lot of other bands do. Everything you hear from us, whether it's good or bad, is us."
Lead guitarist, and a bunch of other instruments to his credit, Frank Hannon, was spry on the stage. After contracting Covid in 2021 he said he'd lose some weight. And it appears he has. Mr. Hannon was moving across the stage very well in his slim downed body, as always a stellar performer.
David Rude, Frank Hannon's guitar partner in crime, has an understated coolness about him. Check his Insta for occasional guitar licks.
Bassist Brian Wheat hangs in the back, mostly stage right, but don't let that subdued demeanor fool you. As the band manager, he is a driving force in the band's success. Why does he manage them? "We’re out there every fucking night, not the managers and not the record company. That’s why I manage the band now; I’ve managed the band for 18 of the last 23 years because no one knows the band better than we do," he told VWMusic earlier this year.
Drummer Steve Brown is the newest member of Tesla replacing Tory Luccketta in the fall of 2021. When Mr. Luccketta decided not to tour, he posted on social media that he was "happy and well." In the same post, Mr. Luccketta wrote, "Steve is a great friend and a great drummer."
I can attest to the latter part; Mr. Brown is an equal talent to this outstanding quintet.
The bottom line? They were great; they are always great.
Check out their latest musical stylings, Full Throttle Live. It includes one studio song, Aerosmith's S.O.S (Too Bad).
Tesla in pics put to 30 seconds of Modern Day Cowboy
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