at the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC), Durham, NC, USA, March 13, 2024

TESLA (Live at the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC), Durham, NC, USA, March 13, 2024)
Photo: Scott Jeslis

A touring resurgence by many 70s and 80s bands is still quite commonplace in 2024 and hard rock band Tesla is no exception to the rule. It was a chilly evening in Durham, North Carolina, USA on a “hump day” no less. Chilly on the outside perhaps but inside the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) veteran rockers Tesla were heating up the joint and were rewarded with a very warm reception from the southerners in attendance.

First, A Man On A Mission

Kurt Deimer Band
Kurt Deimer 03-13-24 Durham, NC Kurt and guitarist Sammy Boller.
Photo: Scott Jeslis.

Tonight’s show was kicked off by a Cincinnati, Ohio native named Kurt Deimer. Kurt is a man on a mission to “Work Hard, Rock Hard, Play hard and Spread positivity”. He’s a down-to-earth guy who plays a mix of hard rock and modern rock and even throws in a cool cover of Pink Floyd’s “Have A Cigar”. When Deimer started his journey into the music industry he caught the attention of Brian Wheat, bass player for the same Tesla who was headlining tonight, and who became part of Deimer’s management. So it seems like a no-brainer to have had Deimer headline some shows especially when his brand of rock is a match for Tesla’s melodic hard rock audience. Deimer and his band played a strong, enjoyable forty-five minute set and they seemed to gain the affection of the crowd in attendance! Durham looks forward to seeing these guys come back!

Modern Day Cowboys, Still!

Of course this evening belonged to the headliners Tesla who played a hard rocking set filled with tons of their hits. Tonight’s setlist drawing inspiration mainly from their The Great Radio Controversy and Mechanical Resonance albums. Tesla fans couldn’t ask for a better opening set as the band arrived on stage and plunged into “Lady Luck”, “Modern Day Cowboy” and “Hang Tough”.

Unfortunately, guitarist Frank Hannon couldn’t make this show due to a family emergency. Thankfully, Kurt Deimer’s guitarist Sammy Boller filled Frank’s shoes for the evening. Nevertheless, the band were in high spirits and commanded the modest stage at this performing arts theatre. They guys sounded tight and singer Jeff Keith sounded as good as ever. Tesla also brought along an impressive stage and light show. The stage’s backdrop was adorned with a whole fleet of monitors which flashed memorable images and words (e.g. Bang! Bang!) throughout the night.

Tesla's Jeff Keith
Tesla 03-13-24 Durham, NC Vocalist Jeff Keith.
Photo: Scott Jeslis.

In an era where a lot of these classic bands are down to perhaps one or two original members it’s nice to see that Tesla is pretty much intact. One exception being original guitarist Tommy Skeoch was replaced by Dave Rude in 2006, who is still with the band. In Frank Hannon’s absence Rude made sure the audience was thoroughly entertained by providing the evening’s guitar histrionics. The other recent exception is drummer Troy Luccketta who left the band in 2021 and his seat is now occupied by hard-hitting drummer Steve Brown whose older brother is Mick, the drummer for Dokken.

Owning The Stage

On stage there was a lot of soulful play between all three guitarists; Brian Wheat, Dave Rude and guest guitarist Sammy Boller. Sure it’s not the running around the stage rampantly like in 1986 but the matured audiences at these shows nowadays put more priority on the musical performances and Tesla certainly delivered.

Some of Tesla’s most adorned tracks include covers and playing some of those tonight was actually a two sided coin. Cover hits like “Little Suzi” and “Signs” were high marks for the evening while the other cover track, “Walk Away”, their James Gang cover from Real To Reel, Vol. 1 seemed to garner a weaker response.

Dave Rude, Tesla DPAC 2024
Tesla 03-13-24 Durham, NC Dave Rude.
Photo: Scott Jeslis.

All in all, at the end of the ninety-minute set the crowd walked away pleased and happy hearing the majority of the Tesla “popular hits”.  It’s nice to see that Tesla can still deliver the goods as they are perhaps one of the first classic bands to have re-emerged on the touring scene now so many years ago. They can still draw a crowd and hopefully they continue to fulfill fans’ desires to see them live for several more years!


  • Scott Jeslis

    Scott is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He handles a lot of Metal Express Radio's public relations, screening of new music and radio scheduling. On occasion, he also does reviews and interviews. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2004.

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