Recap and photos from Metal Mike Koreski in Grand Ronde, Oregon (8/6/21)
Concerts! Concerts! Concerts! If you’re reading this you’ve probably missed them as much as I do. Last night was my first show since February 2020. I don’t think I have gone that long without a concert for the last 15 years. Here’s some things to think about as bands hit the road again after being off for a good chunk of time….
I was really excited that Tesla was my first show back from the virus that at one time took every day life down to a snails pace…..musicians included. I mean, we heard them on several podcasts during lockdown, on Zoom jams as well, but no shows for them to promote or us to look forward too. I think it’s because of that daily scenario that the saying “the thought is better than the reality” came to mind for me in regards to last night.
Imagine my surprise as my roommate and I are watching the band assemble to each side of the stage getting ready to grab their gear and start the show. We see everyone but Frank Hannon. Then, when the band comes on stage….THERE’S NO FRANK HANNON!!!
Of course, the shock is there, and the feelings of being super bummed. I mean, Hannon is a HUGE part of the band!! Besides the blistering solos he’s also a great vocalist in his own right, adding so much to the back ground vocals and occasional harmonies with Jeff Keith. We’re assuming the fill in was his guitar tech (the band and Hannons websites aren’t saying anything at this point about it).
He did an admirable job as make no mistake, he had VERY big shoes to fill. With it being only the second show of the tour after not playing live for 18+ months, that probably also played into him not quite as into the moment as the rest of the band, there were some songs where I could tell he was concentrating more on playing the part as it’s known for more than being on stage if that makes any sense. Truth be told, if you closed your eyes, you probably couldn’t tell the difference so he was great in stepping up in a crazy difficult situation!
Onto the show itself!!! Tesla opened with the face melter “Comin’ Atcha Live” then followed up with another face melter “Modern Day Cowboy.” Jeff Keith’s vocals were amazing which was so refreshing after hearing several veteran singers fall short these last couple weeks as bands are starting their on road lives again. Keith also was his usual on stage self, thanking the crowd for coming out several times while being really happy to be out there. He had to carry more of the load on stage being the focal point with no Frank, and he passed that task from the opening song.
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Unlike the last time I saw them in 2019, there wasn’t a new album to promote so the set list, while short for my liking at one hour and 20 minutes, was mostly the songs you know them the most for.
A couple “treats” they threw in were “Breakin’ Free” from “Forevermore” in 2008, and a really cool version of “Paradise” off of “Great Radio Controversy” that had bassist Brian Wheat on the keyboards and both guitarists on acoustic guitars to start the song, then switch out later in the song.
After the show we ended up talking to someone who sat in back of us who claimed he was a friend of the Keith family who confirmed that Hannons absence was a Covid rumor that was most likely true, and during the bands sort of meet and greet before the show that fans who paid to watch the sound check (there wasn’t any actual meeting the band) had to mask up, etc.
I’m sure there will be more stories like this from shows as the touring machine cranks up around the world. Unless you live in a bubble (which many of us did last year), you’ve seen countless entertainers, sports figures and even Olympians come down with the virus.
As the band closed the night with “Little Suzi” and “Signs”, I was enjoying the moment. We’re still talking today about a band that broke in 1986, whose music doesn’t sound dated (in my opinion) and is performed to a fantastic level. After seeing so many 80’s based bands sounding awful on Youtube, it’s great to know Tesla is still delivering the goods. Jeff, Brian Wheat, Troy Lucketta, Dave Rude and the mystery guitarist provided great entertainment despite all the set backs facing the band as they start up again.
Best wishes for whatever is ailing Frank, and I’m definitely ready for their next go round!
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