By Dama Barrios-Gil, Journalist and Joel Barrios, Photographer–Rock At Night Miami
Venue: Parker Playhouse, Fort Lauderdale, Florida–September 27, 2017
Around a month ago my husband asked me if I wanted to go to see Tesla once again, and my immediate answer was a resounding YES!… Our first Tesla show around 2 years go in Orlando was a complete blast. We had such a great time at the VIP session and an the actual show was one of the most enjoyable I’ve been to, and obviously I got thirsty for more.
Once again we took the plunge and purchased the Meet and Greet package and arrived early to the venue, as the VIP experience was due to start at 4:30 in the afternoon. After receiving our goodie bags, containing a very nice gunmetal flask with two stainless steel shot glass set plus a band signed picture, we were taken inside the beautiful Parker Playhouse theater, where the band was going over the sound-check. We were received by the band with smiles and jokes which were answered with cheerful applauds and they proceed to answer several questions from all the fans in attendance in a ver relaxed atmosphere, to later perform the first song of their upcoming set for us. Once the sound check was over we were taken out of the theater to a side area and lined up to get our picture with the band members. During the photo experience they behaved once again in a very humble and down to Earth way, having some personal time with their fans before the picture, asking personal questions and greeting everyone individually. The whole experience was once again a remarkable moment, worth the money spent and time invested in it.
Tesla would start their show at 8:30 at night. There were two bands before them, Voice of Extreme (VOX) and Weapons of Anew. The first one hailing from The Big Apple, is a powerful hard rock trio integrated by lead vocalist and guitarist Don Chaffin, bass Steven G. Knight, and drummer Bobby Marks. They thrilled the stage with great riffs, sweet melodies, and contagious rhythm. Those of us who did not know them were enjoying the hard rock tinged sound of the New Yorkers. The second band composed by lead vocalist Ray West, Freddy Ordine lead guitar, Stefan Cutrupi bass, Chris Manfre drums, and Kris Norris second guitar is a metal band. Even though they were fairly energetic, their sound was not perfect at all, the drum was too loud, the lead vocalist too low and the guitar not sharp enough so the experience was not pleasant. Once they finished we were ready for the amazing Tesla.
With thirty plus year of music and hundreds of sold out shows under their belt, the Sacramento rockers took the stage with a huge roar from the crowd as they opened with “MP3” from their latest album “Simplicity”, which went to number 24 on the Top 200 Billboard Chart in its first week, to immediately after roll out with “Into the Now”. As usual lead vocalist Jeff Keith was dancing all around, having a lot of fun and interplaying with a standing crowd who was dancing and singing along; just to see him on stage was a show on its own. “The Way It Is”, “Hang Tough”, and “Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out)” dropped one after another, taking the audience’s reaction to even higher levels. The band was as tight as ever, with Troy’s drumming specially sounding like a pounding machine. The lights dimmed little by little while we could hear the change of instruments on stage and when they came back on, we got surprised to see a set for an acoustic section, much in the vein of reprising their excellent “Five Man Acoustical Jam” album. They played “Comin’ Atcha Live / Truckin’, “Paradise”, and “Signs” and even though the vibe was mellower and we were in a theater with assigned seats, not one person cared to seat. At any given moment If I looked around I could not see a single person not singing or dancing along. Only Tesla can make an acoustic set rock as engaging as their most rocking songs.
In a blink of an eye we were back enjoying the furious guitar of Frank Hannon and Dave Rude, the on point bass of Brian Wheat, the pump-you-up drums of Troy Lucketta, and one of the best front-man I’ve known Jeff Keith. Rich harmonies filled the air with “What You Give”, later followed by “Edison’s Medicine”, and the popular “Love Song” and if it wasn’t enough “Little Suzi” to close off their set. As expected, we felt the show too short so the whole venue started clamoring Tesla! Tesla! … we were hungry for more. The enchanting Jeff asked us if we wanted one more song (question which got an unanimous reponse) and they came back to play “Modern Day Cowboy” as encore.
Three decades into their career, Tesla have perfected their performances in a way that not only young fans but old loyal ones enjoy from beginning to end. I’m sure they cannot be more proud of what they have accomplished during all these years of hard work and outstanding musicianship, and for me they are a testament of how timelessness music can be played live in unforgettable performances.
- Into the Now
- The Way It Is
- Hang Tough
- Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out)
- Comin’ Atcha Live / Truckin’ (Five Man Acoustical Jam version)
- Paradise (Five Man Acoustical Jam Version)
- Signs (Five Man Electrical Band cover)
- What You Give
- Edison’s Medicine
- Love Song
- Little Suzi (Ph.D. cover)
- Modern Day Cowboy
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