Power of Metal.dk Live Review

Location: Islington Academy, London, England
12 June, 2014

 Tesla, Toby Jepson, Kodiak Jack

As 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 stars.

Oh yes, the atmosphere was already electric even before the first band hit the stage…..

KODIAK JACK (www.kodiakjackofficial.com)

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 lyrics. Their performance was passionate and confident and I heard a few excellent guitar solos. Bottom line: good but not great.

Get Out Alive
La Rue
More Than This
Wasted Youth
Coming Home 

RATING: 65/100

TOBY JEPSON  (www.tobyjepson.com)

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 songwriting skills.

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
Shadow Dancing
Small Talk
Four Letter Word
Don’t Pray for Me
Young Gods
Too Much 

RATING: 79/100

TESLA  (teslatheband.com)

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.

It 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
Hang Tough
So Divine
Heaven’s Trail
Mama’s Fool
Into The Now
The Way It Is
What You Give
Love Song
Getting’ Better
Modern Day Cowboy
Lil’ Suzi
Comin’ Atcha Live 

RATING: 98/100

Attending: Chris Galea

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