TESLA (Live)

At The Academy, Newcastle, U.K., June 15, 2009

It’s hard to believe that Tesla have been around for nearly 25 years and you’d be forgiven for thinking they are one of those “new” bands who have only been with us for a short time. But, yes, their silver anniversary is beckoning and it’s incredible to think that it was back in the mid-’80s that “Modern Day Cowboy” was blasting out across MTV.

TeslaTesla have always been tricky to pigeonhole. They never sat comfortably with the Hair Metal revolution of the ’80s or flannelette clad Grungers of the ’90s instead they ploughed their own furrow with their energetic take on Bluesey Hard Rock. It is perhaps their reticence to be identified with one particular movement which has meant that they are not tarred with the same brush as some of their contemporaries and their reputation has held up to scrutiny over the years.

Last year saw the release of their highly acclaimed Forever More album and it’s clear that the band is pumped up with that release as they open their set with the title track and an uplifting, driving “I Wanna Live”, a song that really sets the pace for the show.

TeslaTesla are In fine form with a crystal clear and well balanced sound giving the guitars of Dave Rude and Frank Hannon plenty of space to shine without ever drowning out Jeff Keith’s rasping, Bluesy vocals which were superb throughout the set.

Surprisingly early in the set, “Modern Day Cowboy” absolutely shook the foundations of the Academy to their very core and had the crowd bouncing before the brooding, moody “Breakin’ Free”, another belter from Forever More, saw the guitars of Rude and Hannon dueling for pole position.

Dave Rude may be the only non-original member of Tesla, however his playing shows a great maturity and depth that belies his young age and evokes memories of a young Allen Collins from Lynyrd Skynyrd and has proven to be the ideal replacement for Tommy Skeoch.

TeslaWhile their peers veered down the Pop Metal road of spandex and bouffants Tesla drew on the influences of the American heroEs of the 70s for their inspiration with Skynyrd and Aerosmith being particular reference points with the swagger and attitude of the latter stamped all over the rugged “Heaven’s Trail” featuring some sublime slide work from Hannon.

Tesla have some pretty memorable tunes in their locker too with “Hang Tough” and the Leppard-esq “Song and Emotion”, appropriately dedicated to Steve Clark, being two fine examples of their grasp of melody and power wrapped up in great songs.

TeslaThe set throughout is well paced, with the more acoustic material such as “Love Song” “What You Give” with its tight vocal harmonies and “Signs” giving the band some breathing space and allowing Hannon the chance to strap on his fantastic double necked Gibson guitar while Rude supplied the dirty slide accompaniment.

The flipside of these is the break-neck Rocker, “Cumin’ Atcha Live” which closes the set and the thumping “Edison’s Medicine” which is the sole encore of the night.

TeslaTesla have always had a reputation as an excellent live band and this was proven beyond doubt at Newcastle with a performance brimming with confidence and attitude combined with an excellent set selection highlighting the best of their classics and the highlights from their new material. A welcome return to the UK from one of America’s finest bands from the last quarter of a century.



  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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