JAM Magazine Concert Reviews

July 15, 2014
House of Blues - Dallas
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Jill Jackson
Photos by Andy Laudano


The Simplicity of Tesla Rocks Into the Now

Video by Steve Armstrong

Tesla performs to a capacity crowd at the Dallas, Texas House of Blues Tuesday night in support of their latest album release, Simplicity. Fans of all ages filled every seat in the balcony and packed the floor so tightly that it was nearly impossible to squeeze your way up to the front of the stage, proving once and for all the cross - generational appeal of this veteran act.

Tesla rocked the house, as they have every time I have seen them over the past two decades - this band never disappoints. Hitting the stage with the brand new "Break of Dawn" the show seemed to be more or less broken down into two halves: the first showcasing their newer, post-millennial output, albeit with a few notable exceptions, and the second featuring the hits that got them here. Other selections from Simplicity included "So Divine" and "MP3" a song reminiscent of a simpler time with the lyrics "All the world is overrun with technology... We gotta get back to Simplicity."

Although the show's first half was predominantly newer material, Tesla pleased the old-schoolers early on by including "Hang Tough" and one of my favorites "Heaven's Trail (No Way Out)," both from their 1989 breakthrough album, The Great Radio Controversy. They also touched on two of their more underrated albums by playing the biggest hit from each: "Mama's Fool" from 1994's Bust a Nut and "What You Give" from 1991's Psychotic Supper. From there, it was all hits till the end of the show.

It's sometimes easy to forget the impact Tesla had on the music scene back in 1990, but they were the first hard rock band to release an album of entirely acoustic material nearly 25 years ago. "Signs," the biggest single from their Five Man Acoustical Jam album, was everywhere in 1990, way before the MTV Unplugged craze of that decade. The fans at the House of Blues remember though, as it was one of the biggest sing-alongs of the night.

Their biggest hit "Love Song" was another crowd favorite, with everyone singing along to its huge chorus. Other early favorites followed, including "Gettin' Better," "Modern Day Cowboy" and show-closer "Cumin' Atcha Live," all from their 1986 debut, Mechanical Resonance.

One of the things that I love about Tesla is how down to earth this band is when compared to other bands, some of whom were in town this week. Tesla manages to wow their fans with no fancy bells or whistles - just true talent and lots of enthusiasm. Jeff Keith was all over the stage the whole night having just as much fun as the fans, while the guitar enthusiasts in the house were awestruck by Frank Hannon's virtuoso playing.

Aside from "Heaven's Trail," my favorites of the night were "The Way It Is," "What You Give" and "I Wanna Live," a later-era song that fits comfortably alongside their classics and shows how little the band's approach has changed in their nearly 30 years together. I am looking forward to seeing Tesla on the 2015 Monsters of Rock Cruise. As a matter of fact, they are my main reason for going.

Set List:
Break of Dawn
I Wanna Live
Hang Tough
So Divine
Heaven's Trail (No Way Out)
Mama's Fool
Into The Now
The Way It Is
What You Give
Love Song
Gettin' Better
Modern Day Cowboy
Little Suzi
Guitar Duel
Cumin' Atcha Live