The multi-platinum-selling, California-based rock group Tesla rolled into town last Friday (Oct. 13) and delivered a tight, high-volume set of old and new songs to a houseful of faithful fans at the Music Farm. The light show was as flashy and bright as any major rock concert from 1989. Lead vocalist Jeff Keith's voice was in fine condition. Bassist Brian Wheat, and drummer Troy Luccketta, and guitarists Dave Rude and Frank Hannon played well.
Charleston-based singer/guitarist Kevin Gates and barfly/musicologist Charles "Charlie T." Taylor — two figures from the Coleman Boulevard music scene who go way back with Tesla's music — accompanied City Paper to the Music Farm for the show. Gates gave us his assessment:
"They started out with the title track from their new album, Forever More ... good song, but it didn't make a huge impression on me. It was high-energy, very much ... it could have been a stadium show, but it was at the Music Farm. I don't remember what the second song was, but, again it was very high-energy. And the third one was 'Modern Day Cowboy,' off their first album, I think. It starts off really fast, then goes, 'Bang-bang, shoot 'em up' — the one Charlie T. always sings. That's the one song I really, really wanted to hear. They hit that nice and early, and it was about the high-point for me [laughs]. The rest of it was really good.
"I recognized seven or eight songs after that. The sound was really good. They've obviously done some work at the Farm on the sound system. Great mix. Everywhere I was at, I could hear everything. The guitar tones sounded great. The guy with the dark hair is the new guitar player, and the big blonde-haired guitar player guy who played the double-neck at the end of the night — he's been with them for a long time. So it was the four guys with a new guitar player.
"When they first started out , the big thing was that they would go back and forth on the leads, and it was exciting, like, you know, Judas Priest or Iron Maiden, but I thought their songs were a little more intricate.
"They maintained their level of energy. They came out for their very last song and started 'Signs' on acoustic, but then they were like, 'Ha-ha!' and then they whipped out the electrics and finished with that It was a nice, full, kind of a grungier version of 'Signs.' They went out with two more, fireball-shootin' songs. I felt like I was 17 years old again. I'd say it was a very successful night."