Live Photos and Gig Review Credit: © Robert Cavuoto
Tesla Simplicity at its Best in NYC
California based rockers, Tesla, just back from performing some of the biggest rock festivals in Europe, returned to the states to play at Irving Plaza in New York on June 18th to a packed house. This tour comes on the heels of their long awaited new studio CD, Simplicity.
Tonight the band got back to basics with their hard driving brand of “riff rock” and cranked out hit after hit like “Heaven Trail”, “Hang Tough”, “Signs”, “The Way it Is” and the song that guitarist, Frank Hannon, told me best defines the band’s sound; “Love Song.”
When the magic of writing great riffs have eluded many bands lately, it clearly shines strong with Tesla. The new CD has 14 new riff driven songs all with memorable hooks. The band incorporated three of these new songs into the set, “MP3”, “Ricochet”, and “So Divine”. Frank mentioned to me during an interview that the band was hoping to also include, “Break of Dawn” if they could pull it together in time, unfortunately it wasn’t included in tonight’s set. Fans instinctively knew all the words to these songs despite the CD only being out a week or so.
Three quarters of the way through the show, guitarist Frank Hannon asked the crowd, “Do you want to hear some songs off our first LP, Mechanical Resonance?” With a thunderous applause the band launched into “Gettin’ Better”, “Modern Day Cowboy” and of course “Little Suzi” which guitarist Dave Rude and Frank performed on stationary acoustic guitars to ensure the beautifully rich textured song came across flawlessly. The guitar team has a tremendous chemistry and hammered the point home on “Modern Day Cowboy” with its double-barreled lead. The entire band was on top of their game with tons of interaction and stage comradery.
I couldn’t help notice that band’s new mantra also lent itself to their guitar effects as well. Gone are the cumbersome digital rack mounted effects that lite up the sides of the stage and in its place were pedal boards chock full of effects which clearly leant itself to their lush live sound. The thunderous volume in Irving Plaza was crisp whether on electric or acoustic guitar with great attack.
Vocalist Jeff Keith is fantastic frontman full of energy and humor; clearly owning up to his influences of Steven Tyler meets Mick Jagger meets Iggy Pop with a touch of Martin Short for comedic sake! His unmistakably soulful and raspy voice cut through the band’s heavy guitar driven sound. A powerhouse vocalist that never seemed to tire in the venue’s 90 degree heat. He clearly hasn’t lost his trademark chops!
Instead of leaving the stage prior to the encore, the band said “Why go all the way upstairs to the dressing room, we know that you want use to play more!” and closed the night with “Comin’ Attacha Live.” Whatever energy the band had left after their two hour set was put into this closing number. Both band and crowd were hell bent on having a great timing and welcomed Tesla back to New York!