The Tesla show sold out last-minute at the Hard Rock on Saturday night. I was sulking alone with my Stoli & Tonic at the smoke-filled Center Bar when a middle-aged, long-haired rocker dressed in camo and white sneakers tried to scalp me a ticket. He wanted $50 but I talked him down to $20, and I was in!
There were no expectations: Just another band I had never seen live that I needed to cross off my list. Little did I know I was in for an ass-kicking surprise.
In 1986, after two years together, the band changed its name from City Kidd to Tesla and took the “Headbangers Ball” viewers by storm.
Tesla was lumped in with glam metal bands despite its lack of spandex, hair spray or makeup. Like many talented bands of the era, they went down with the rock ship as it collided with a glacier known as grunge in 1991. After a brief hiatus, the band was resurrected in the early oughts, and is proudly on tour in celebration of 25 years together.
With four out of five original members, Tesla sounded tight, looked amazing and had a vibrant stage presence. Say what you will about metal, but a live metal show will always deliver if there’s a solid drummer, lightning-fast guitarists, a vocalist with a vast range, and a sound engineer that can bring out the best in the music.
Tesla’s older, harder songs were surprisingly face-melting, while the newer stuff was refreshing—reminiscent but not redundant. Though "Love Song" tempted us all to hug our drunken neighbor, the real shining star was "Paradise," an epic tear-jerker of a power ballad that brought out the lighters and filled a small chasm in my cold, bitter heart.