Tesla Islington Academy 12-06-14

First up was Portsmouth 5 piece Kodiak Jack who released their critically acclaimed debut cd " Alhambra " earlier in the year. The cd was produced by Brian Wheat of Tesla so it was no surprise to see the man watching them. 
I had heard the cd before but watching them live the songs really come alive with some huge riffs and a real energy ,bounce and drive that make them stand out from the crowd.
In their 30 minute set we had 7 songs from the debut cd as follows

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

 "Get Out Alive " is a great opener as it is on the cd and sets the scene  for the set with its upbeat driving riff and chorus and they are led by vocalist Bryn Roberts who has an excellent set of pipes with a slightly aggressive tone that suits the music well. Jeff Arnold and Jon Karp on guitars both riff and solo with aplomb and the audience reaction grew  as each song finished and quite rightly so.

First single " Wasted Youth " is a real heavy blues stomp with a chorus that deserves to be heard in cars everywhere loud and with the windows down if you can't take the roof down that is!!

Here is the video for it

Ending with " Coming Home " which builds from a slow beginning into a real monster of a song that leaves us wanting more and that can only be a good thing from a band at the start of their careers.


A late addition to the evening was Toby Jepson who played a 30 minute acoustic set which included 3 songs from his recently released "Raising My Own Hell " ep .

Here is what he played

Raising My Own Hell
Shadow Boxing
Small Talk
Four Letter Word
Don't Prey For Me
Young Gods/Backdoor Man

He has always had a superb voice and with the songs stripped back you can really hear everything so clearly and every song becomes a lesson in story telling  and he was also a great host with some good between song stories.
In fact he remembered supporting Tesla back at their legendary Marquee show back in 1987 which ended with Little Angels being signed.

Joined by Dave Kemp on saxophone ( from the Big Bad Horns that played with Little Angels ) who played a couple of wonderful solos. I have found an earlier youtube clip of the title track that shows the song off in all its glory.

Finishing with a couple of Little Angels numbers including my favourite " Don't Prey For Me " , and as I have said before all bands should be made to play a show like this in an acoustic style to show off their talent and depth of the songs.

With a packed expectant crowd no one was thinking of the start of the World Cup as Tesla played a sole UK show in preparation of their Download show at the weekend.

I have been a fan since the release of their wonderful debut cd " Mechanical Resonance " way back in 1987 and their 2 shows supporting Def Leppard at Hammersmith Odeon when they played a blinder.

6 and a half years since I have seen them and with the release of their excellent new cd " Simplicity " this was one gig I was looking forward to.

From the first second they hit the stage and for the next 90 minutes we were treated to a masterclass in rock n'roll from a band that get better with age.

Here is what they played

With a near 30 year career it must be a nightmare writing a setlist to please everyone but I think this was a great reflection across all their albums including some from after the reunion.

2 tracks from the new cd came across well with " So Divine " being especially good with all the Tesla trademarks of groove , melody , Jeff Keith's raspy vocal and twin guitar solo's.

" Hang Tough " kicked some serious ass with Brian Wheat's huge bass line rumbling through and " Heaven's Trail " has heads banging and fists raised to the sky. 

" Mama's Fool " from " Bust a Nut " was fantastic with huge gang backing vocals and great soloing from Frank Hannon and also very apt with Jeff Keith's stage persona for this gig. He has always been a great frontman but on this showing he was just off the scale. Excellent vocals as well but he danced, pranced, shadow boxed and just acted the fool. Brian Wheat has shared the stage with him for nearly 30 years but on a couple of occasions he laughed out loud at his goofing around. Before the encore he was down in the crowd again playing the fool with the lighting console, having his photo taken with the crowd and just acting like tonight was the first gig of his life. Quite brilliant.

Troy Lucketta holds it all together at the back and Dave Rude on guitar is an able deputy to Frank Hannon but when he has the chance to shine he shows his class.

They can kick your ass but when they slow it down it works too. " The Way It Is " and " What You Give " show they can write a great tune before " Love Song " has the whole place singing along and great soloing from Frank again.

Jeff tells us that it all started for them 27 years ago with the Marquee show and they would then play 4 songs from " Mechanical Resonance " to finish and the place erupted.

The groove of " Gettin' Better " kicked it off in fine style with Brian's bass and Troy's drums to the fore before the riff of " Modern Day Cowboy " had the hairs on the back of my neck standing to attention. That is what makes live music so fantastic that a song you have loved for so long and just hearing it played makes you feel so good. We all bellowed along , heads banged and the world was a great place to be.

" Li'l Suzi " ended the set in fine style before we hollered some more and back they came for one more song.

They used to open with " Comin' Atcha Live " but for this tour it is the perfect end. From Frank's extended solo at the start to Dave joining in before the place went mad as the main riff and Troy drove the song for all his worth. Jeff was in his element as he gave it his all before Dave and Frank then duelled  solos in the middle of the song and always melodic too.

A quite fantastic end to the show.

The band left us wanting more like all great shows should and they promised to return next year.

Make sure you go along too.

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