Errols Weekly Music Update.

October 29, 2008

Concert Review: Tesla at The Blender Theater in NYC

Concert Review: Tesla at the Blender Theater in New York City Tuesday, Rocktober 28, 2008.

Do you know of something that is so good that it often makes you wonder why so many other people have not caught on? Maybe it is your annual vacation spot? Maybe it is that special restaurant? Or it could be your favorite book. Whatever it is, you have it and you love it, correct? Well for me, it is the band called Tesla. Tesla, in my opinion, is one of the greatest rock bands ever. I defy you to find a harder working band and it will be that much more challenging to find a “tighter” band musically. They have always been and will forever be a “great ball of energy.” Last night at the Blender Theater on the East Side of New York City, I along with an approximate 500-700 people witnessed our little secret and I can guarantee you that no one left the show disappointed.

Let me take you through this magical night. All of a sudden at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday it hit me again that I was going to see the boys from Sacramento, CA again. I started to get so psyched up that I wanted 9:30 p.m. to come as fast as it could. (Think back to when you were a child on Christmas Eve). I had never been to the Blender Theater and upon seeing it on 23rd street it immediately reminded me of the movie theaters that I use to attend as a kid growing up in Brooklyn. As soon as you enter, you can instantly see the stage right in front of you. Just picture those “old school” movie theaters with approximately 20 rows of seats removed. The stage was a little more than 5 feet off of the ground. To give you an idea of how compact it was, the left side of the theater had a bar area and two tables that sold T-shirts and then BOOM- the stage. (So you know I can’t hear today).

Upon entering I guess I appeared like I was lost because the guy handing out the drinking bracelets asked me if I was looking for something. I told him it was my first visit to the Blender and was just checking the place out. I also stated that it was going to be loud, he offered up that ear plugs were on sale downstairs but I didn’t take him up on it. That’s not rock and roll, right??!!! Now it’s only 7:30 p.m. and I was among a very small crowd at that point. I was wondering if I would dare to venture up to the front of the stage and then it hit me on how psyched I was for the show, so I cemented my place right behind a few new friends that I had just met for the first time.

At 8:00 p.m. the opening act, Pop Evil- a band from Michigan took the stage. I had never heard of them but I have to say that these guys put on a decent set. I don’t know if it relates to their name but each member had different evil ‘pop’ star qualities. The lead guitarist could have passed for one of the members of N’Sync or The Back Street Boys (no offense to either). The bass guitarist reminded me of Nikki Sixx. The other guitarist looked like he just quit My Chemical Romance to join this band. The drummer’s appearance had heavy metal band written all over him as one’s eyes were drawn to his bald head (again no offense). They also had a DJ who was “scratchin’” like it was done “back in the day.” Their lead singer was full of energy, force and passion. No doubt all the ingredients Tesla was looking for as an opening band. Since I was unfamiliar with their sound, I would say that they are a cross between the band “Live” and “Theory of a Deadman.” Heavy lead & rhythm guitars sprinkled with some hip-hop. Highlights from their set were “3 Seconds to Freedom,” “Stepping Stone,” “Shinedown” and “Hero.”

Before Tesla took the stage at 9:40, the five of us were being entertained by some 1980’s “throwbacks” and boy were they “throwing back.” Makes you believe that a ban on alcohol sales in public venues may not be such a bad idea. Then Eddie Trunk (from Q104.3 radio station in NY) came out to introduce one of his favorite bands of all-time-Tesla. After he exits, I’m staring at the eight foot “Marshall Speakers” and a gold/orange set of drums that are very low to the ground with much anticipation. Then it happens, one by one each member of Tesla take their positions on the small stage with Mr. Jeff Keith coming out last and they blast off with the title track from their latest album, “Forever More.” Being so close, the boys loomed as “larger than life” figures and I felt like I was on the set of MTV’s “TRL.” From the audience view, Frank Hannon, guitarist, set up his gear on the right side of the stage. Troy Luccketta, drummer, is back center stage. Brain Wheat, bass, sets up shop on the left side and further left is the newer member of the band, Dave Rude, guitarist. For the first few songs, Dave is doing his best ‘Slash’ impression as no one can see his face as his head is completely covered by a hat. All you see is hat & hair. Mr. Wheat reminds me of John Kruk, the former Philadelphia Phillies 1st baseman, and Brian is a big baseball fan. As usual, Jeff is the life of the party. They warp into their latest single “I Wanna Live” as Frank credits WDHA FM- the NJ rock station- with playing this tune incessantly. Jeff’s voice is spot on and he is a presence on stage. You can see that the music is in him the way he moves around on stage.

Then it’s back to 1986 and the ‘Head banger’s Ball” as the opening chords to “Modern Day Cowboy” rip through your ears. It was fun to hear the whole crowd sing along to their first “hit.” The next few songs were from the new album and The Great Radio Controversy with the highlight being “Breakin’ Free.” Half way through the show when the opening chords to “The Way It Is” the crowd roars in appreciation and Jeff didn’t even have to sing the song as the audience was singing word for word. The guitar solo was incredible. These two guitarists, Frank and Dave, provide a one-two punch that is hard to compete with. A few songs later, these gentlemen pulled out their acoustic guitars and everyone knew what was coming: “Love Song”- arguably their best song ever recorded. Again the crowd took over on vocals and I’m standing there just thinking “how great is this?” I was on cloud nine and unwilling to come down. “I know, I know, shoo do be, shoo do be, I know…” Keeping up the karaoke atmosphere, they then performed their “best known” song – “Signs.” Wow talk about loud- it was a party and Jeff Keith was keeping it loose as he was messing with the stage hands most of the show. I was waiting for the part where he screams “ughh.” At this point I’m convinced that this is the best show I have seen them perform (I know I say that for every show). The last two songs prior to the encores were from “Mechanical Resonance” (an album that everyone should own). “Little Suzi” never gets old and there was a “Suzi” in the front row. (Aided by a sign that had an arrow pointing over her). The highlight of the show was “Comin’ Atcha Live” which showcased the fantastic abilities on lead guitar for both Dave and Frank. The house was rocking. As they headed backstage before the encores, Jeff issued a warning- “Make some noise or we might not come back out.”

To entice the crowd to make some more noise, he came out with an Oakland Raiders jacket. It worked. The two encores were “In a Hole Again”- one of the best, if not the best song on the new album. The last tune, a staple of their shows was “Edison’s Medicine” from Psychotic Supper. When the show ended you could sense a feeling of family as they appear to be real life brothers. Their music is tight and their bond is tighter.

As I mentioned in the beginning of the review, everyone has their little secrets, be it a vacation spot, book or whatever. Tesla is one of my best secrets as I would assume they are for everyone who attended last night’s show. And there is one secret about last night’s show that I forgot to mention. I got to slap hands with Mr. Jeff Keith as he leaned into the crowd- now you understand why I said the night was “magical.”

The Set List:

1.Forever More- Forever More

2.I Wanna Live- Forever More

3.Modern Cowboy- Mechanical Resonance

4.Breakin’ Free- Forever More

5.Hang Tough- The Great Radio Controversy

6.Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out)- The Great Radio Controversy

7.So What- Forever More

8.One Day at a Time- Forever More

9.The Way it Is- The Great Radio Controversy

10.Shine Away- Bust a Nut

11.Fallin’ Apart- Forever More

12.Love Song- The Great Radio Controversy

13.Signs- Five Man Acoustical Jam

14.Into the Now- Into the Now

15.Little Suzi- Mechanical Resonance

16.Comin’ Atcha Live- Mechanical Resonance

17.Down in A Hole- Forever More (Encore)

18.Edison’s Medicine- Psychotic Supper (Encore)


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