Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Cleveland Concert Review: Tesla at the House of Blues 8/19/14

Stormy night under jet black skies, Tesla pulled into town. Thunder rolled and lightning bolts came crashing to the ground! The lyrics to “Modern Day Cowboy” fit perfectly for their concert at the Cleveland House of Blues last night. A huge thunderstorm rolled its way through downtown Cleveland shortly before Tesla took the stage. They then came in and stormed through an incredible set!
It’s hard to believe that Tesla has been around for 27+ years as Jeff Keith pointed out during their show last night. Touring in support of their newest CD, Simplicity, it clear there’s still plenty left in the tank for these guys. Jeff Keith has one of the most unique voices in rock. While the years have seen his voice altered a bit, and they clearly tune their instruments down quite a bit on a few songs to help him out (most notably Edison’s Medicine), his voice is as strong as ever. Nobody saunters around a stage the way Keith does. It’s entertaining in its own right. Add the rest of the band, highlighted by one of the most under-rated guitarists, Frank Hannon, and you’ve got one of the most entertaining bands you’ll ever see.

They may have come out in the midst of the 80’s hard rock scene, but they’re hardly a hair band. Their songs have always been straight forward rock and roll with substance. No glitz or glamour, just straight up rock that will kick you in the ass. Their authenticity has been the calling card of the band and clearly separated from many of the bands from that era. And, luckily for their fans, they show no signs of slowing down. I’ve seen Tesla a bunch of times since the early ‘90’s and this show was as good as any I’ve been to.

The show started with the slower (but still heavy) “MP3”, the opening track of their new CD, and it didn’t take them long to settle in. They blazed through a 16-song, 90-minute set highlighting their hits, along with four of their new songs. While I like the new CD, hearing the songs live gives them a whole new depth and passion. The best of the new songs by far is “So Divine”. It just has the classic Tesla sound and comes off live very well. Other highlights, as always, are “Love Song” (I can watch them play this over and over. It never gets old) and “Modern Day Cowboy”. The only complaint I had (and a small one) was that they didn’t include any songs from “Into The Now” which I think is one of their best CD’s.
Back to the 27+ years, that makes them eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I haven’t heard their name in any discussions as far as who should be in the Rock Hall, but I’m going to start the argument. There are plenty of bands that haven’t made it in yet that clearly deserve to be (see and I’m adding Tesla to that list. Should they go in before some of these others? Not necessarily, but they do deserve to be in there at some point. Let’s make it happen!
Have you seen Tesla live (if not, what are you waiting for)? What do you think of the band? As always, thanks for reading and please share it with your friends!

Edison’s Medicine
I Wanna Live
Hang Tough
So Divine
Heaven’s Trail
Mama’s Fool
Life is a River
The Way It Is
Burnout to Fade
What You Give
Love Song
Gettin’ Better
Modern Day Cowboy
Little Suzi (Encore)

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