I was discussing with the band’s guitarist Frank Hannon before the gig, Tesla
fans tend to be loyal and passionate about the band - as reflected by the tours
depicted upon the audience’s shirts as well as the variety of age-groups and
nationalities that flocked to this London venue.
Before the doors officially opened, Jeff Keith and Troy Luccketta, respectively
Tesla’s vocalist and drummer, came out to mingle with fans. Jeff was
particularly jocular with them. It’s reassuring to witness down-to-earth Rock
yes, the atmosphere was already electric even before the first band hit the
Kodiak Jack (really, I don’t like that moniker!) are a young quintet from
Manchester. They recently released an album – called “Alhambra” – that was
produced by Brian Wheat, Tesla's bass player.
This being the first time I had heard the band, it became clear that these were
talented musicians. Their repertoire, however, failed to win me over as on the
whole I found the songs too…ordinary.
Kodiak Jack’s music had lots of groove and sounded like a
convergence of Hard Rock, Blues and Grunge with correspondingly angst-ridden
performance was passionate and confident and I heard a few excellent guitar
solos. Bottom line: good but not great.
Get Out Alive
More Than This
For some reason, I never followed the career of Little Angels, who were very
popular in the late 1980s. So it was with a relatively blank slate of mind that
I approached the performance of Toby Jepson, Little Angel’s erstwhile vocalist,
who has also sung with other bands such as Gun.
Toby’s set featured just himself on acoustic guitar and
vocals with David Kemp on
saxophone and accordion. Kemp’s relationship with Toby goes back to the Little
Angles days. As Toby told the audience, in the mid-1980s Little Angels had
supported Tesla at the legendary but now defunct ‘Marquee’ venue of London. It
was on the basis of that gig that Little Angels had earned the record deal that
kick-started their international career. I later found out that a lot of people
who were present at that gig were also here tonight. Loyalty indeed!
But on to the actual performance….I was particularly impressed by the saxophone
solos that gave Toby’s songs a memorable touch. Some songs sounded better than
others but it’s clear that Toby Jepson has a healthy ear for melody and solid
The set included a couple of songs from “Raising My Own Hell”, an EP Toby
released a few months ago. But the greatest crowd reaction came with ‘Don’t Pray
For Me’ and ‘Young Gods’ from Little Angels’ repertoire.
It’s not easy to animate a crowd like this using acoustic instruments so kudos
to Toby and David for having succeeded in doing this.
Raising My Own Hell
Four Letter Word
Don’t Pray for Me
From the get-go Tesla were ‘so divine’ and never let down their guard for an
instant. Jeff Keith proved to be the consummate showman that he is and radiated
an infectious enthusiasm. Both guitarists Frank Hannon and Dave Rude were on
fire – there were some exciting times when they duetted at the front of the
stage. Hannon, particularly before the encore, sounded like Jimi Hendrix had
re-incarnated in the body of Richie Blackmore.
was such an incredible feeling when the audience sang in unison to the choruses
of songs such as ‘The Way It Is’, ‘So Divine’ and ‘Love Song’, that last one
being at the centre of a particularly emotional moment. New songs from the
“Simplicity” album, released only a few days before the gig, also went down very
well, especially ‘MP3’…which comes as no surprise really as the song seems
created purposely for a live delivery. I also noticed that the gig was recorded
(on audio) and I’d be eager to hear that recording in future.
One of the best aspects of Tesla’s show was that the band didn’t just deliver
the songs on cue as if following a script. An added solo here…a slightly
extended chorus there…at times it was almost as if the band was improvising
their performance. For me this proves that Tesla, more than many other bands,
clearly understand the nature of live performances. Added to this, I have the
impression that the 5 guys I was seeing on stage are the same guys I see
off-stage. This aura of genuinity is one reason why they find no difficulty in
winning over an audience.
It’s hard to fault anything in Tesla’s performance tonight. This was music
played straight from the heart.
I Wanna Live
Into The Now
The Way It Is
What You Give
Modern Day Cowboy
Comin’ Atcha Live