:: Tesla ::
:: Ogden Theatre ::
:: September 12 ::
By Brandon Daviet
I think it is best to start out every show review with a little editorial commentary on the mood of crowd to help the reader out a bit. Normally, I have given up the practice of setting up shop front and center at a general admission show especially when the music is ’80s style rock and here’s the reason why: Not even before the first notes of opening band Drug Under wafted through the air three loafer wearing, frat boy style toolbags started crowding up against the several girls with my party. Out of the three girls that came, one brought her husband and he had gone to get drinks for our group. When coming back the aforementioned toolbags, who had clearly been drinking and were passing a flask, started a ruckus over this guy’s return (Supposedly he was “cutting in” even though we there long before the “toolbags” reared their drunken heads) words quickly escalated to shoving, my friend walked off to cool down and I stayed trying to be pragmatic but that attempt quickly turned into a trading of insults about sexual orientation and mothers including some just vile remarks at the girls in my party that almost got me throwing punches. (Editor’s note: Daviet is not a punch thrower….had I been there, I would have thrown some in his honor). At that point Drug Under came on and everybody chilled/became distracted throughout the band’s decent set. When my friend’s husband came back down after Drug Under the verbal/shoving began again quickly and the end result was my friend and wife leaving, this prompted my five-foot-three female friend into getting two good shots at the main toolbag’s kisser before security warned her to chill-out and warned the toolbags to respect our space. I got to hand it the Ogden’s security staff, and that don’t happen often, they kept a good eye on the situation the whole time. The point is front row at a GA show is sometimes more hassle than it’s worth.
OK, this review was about Tesla though wasn’t it? Touring behind the impressive Forever More that nostalgic feel that often accompanies shows from ’80’s bands just wasn’t there. Tesla are just as good, and I’d even say better in some ways, than they were in their heyday. Opening with a combo of new tracks “Forever More,” and “I Wanna Live” the band sounded fresh as they played the title track from 2004’s Into the Now and quickly rewound their career more that a decade for the classic “Modern Day Cowboy” and another new tune, their new single/video “Breaking Free.”
That’s when things started to get hairy again as guitarist Frank Hannon’s setup went dead while the band was trying to launch into “Heavens Trail (No Way Out).” It took a considerable amount of time to sort out the issue — especially when you factor in Denver’s ridiculous curfew laws — and while the crowd waited patiently, drummer Troy Luccketta came out and threw fruit from the band’s catering tray into the crowd. Once the show was back on track Tesla proceeded to treat the crowd to a rare “Shine Away” from the band’s largely under-appreciated 1994 album Bust a Nut and a killer version of the hit “Call it What You Want.” Perhaps the highlight of the evening was “We’re No Good Together.” I say “perhaps” because during the soulful end the vocals went out completely. The sound was fixed much faster this time and I’m not sure exactly whose fault it was but I got to say I have been through this kind drama several times at The Ogden and the sound has always been questionable; it really is the worst “mainstream” indoor venue in town for my money. It’s like the only thing they did during their remodeling was bump up the capacity and build another bar.
Anyway the show soldiered on and Tesla stuck to playing the classics “Love Song,” “Man Outta Time” and cruised through a sing along of “Signs.” The show closed with a very brief melody of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” followed by “Comin’ at you Live” The encore turned out to be kick ass version of the early career gem “Rock Me to the Top.” Tesla have always been the cream of the crop among the several ’80s “hair bands that were never really hair bands to begin with.” But, the bottom line is that you know you have seen a good show when you leave the venue thinking of all the great songs they played and all the great songs they didn’t play.