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[whitespace] Tesla Recharges

The reunited rock band electrified the crowd at the Bone Bash II

By Sarah Quelland

AFTER THE OVERWHELMING success of last year's inaugural Bone Bash concert (which featured a very special union of the Scorpions with the San Jose Symphony, Night Ranger and Pat Travers at the Cow Palace), classic-guitar-rock station 107.7-FM "The Bone" organized another rare treat.

Last Sunday (June 3), sandwiched between opener Great White and headliner Ted Nugent, a recently reunited Tesla, featuring all-original members, performed at the Redwood Amphitheater inside Paramount's Great America.

Rock fans can be a loyal breed, as The Bone can attest, and they wear their pride in their tattoos and on their T-shirts. Sunday's enthusiastic crowd was heavily representing with shirts commemorating Tesla's reunion and commanding "Full Bluntal Nugity" and "One Nation Under Ted," as well as celebrating the biker lifestyle with Harley Davidson logos. Some dude was even sporting a baseball cap that read "White Trash." This mullet-loving crowd was full of those lifelong, diehard fans that every rock band dreams of.

After Great White worked the audience up with its dirty, bluesy groove and songs like "Rock Me," "Mista Bone" and "Once Bitten, Twice Shy," Tesla vocalist Jeff Keith, guitarists Frank Hannon and Tommy Skeoch, bassist Brian Wheat and drummer Troy Luccketta came out for an electrifying performance charged with the unrestrained thrill of playing together again.

After breaking up in 1996, Tesla first reunited to play KRXQ-FM's 98 Rock Jambo Freakin' Ween party last October at the Arco Arena in the band's home base, Sacramento. Since then, the guys have been selling out concerts across the country. Tesla's planning to release a live album recorded during this reunion tour, and there's talk of the band members heading into the studio to work on new material. It may be perfect timing.

In Your Pants

THERE SEEMS TO BE a real renaissance of that straightforward feel-it-in-your-pants style of hard rock, and Tesla is one of the groups capable of transcending its initial status as a hair band. Meatier than some of the prettier outfits of the glam-rock era, Tesla plays a gritty style of blues-driven rock & roll, and its dual-guitar attack gives its songs staying power and stamina.

The long-haired rockers don't seem to have aged much in the past 15 years as they kicked off with "Cumin' Atcha Live," looking and sounding as good as they did in their prime.

At 42, the wiry Keith, dressed in shiny black pants and a black Pitbull Gym tank top, was as agile as a cat as he crouched and darted across the stage. With the drum riser, a metal stair-step formation, occupying the bulk of the performing area, the band looked cramped on the amphitheater's medium-sized stage and gave the impression that it was ready to take a full arena by storm.

Tesla burned through some of its most popular material, from 1986's Mechanical Resonance to 1991's Psychotic Supper (the band didn't seem to include songs from 1994's Bust a Nut), including "Hang Tough," "Little Suzi," "Heaven's Trail (No Way Out)," "Gettin' Better" and its cover of Five Man Electrical Band's rebellious 1971 single "Signs." Tesla dusted its set with the memorable ballads "The Way It Is," "Song & Emotion" and "What You Give."

It was like a greatest-hits concert with one major exception. With time for only two more songs, Tesla broke into "Modern Day Cowboy" as audience members started whipping out their Zippos and shouting for the band's biggest hit, the ballad "Love Song." With only one song left, it couldn't, it wouldn't forsake its biggest hit. Or would it?

In a ballsy, unexpected move, in reply to hundreds of people calling for "Love Song," Keith firmly stated "Fuck 'Love Song,' " and the band closed with the faster-paced "Edison's Medicine."

Though Nugent fans stood their ground, there was a huge exodus of happy, though somewhat surprised fans leaving the amphitheater after they were certain Tesla really was finished. It was proof positive that Tesla's still got it.

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From the June 7-13, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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