This is a review for Tesla who played O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire on 16th June 2019.
Up front, I should say I was very curious to see Tesla. Known for being a staple in the “Hard Rock” genre, they have been around for decades, selling millions of records worldwide, yet I had never really heard of them. I was going in blind as it were, listening to their current album only once on the journey toward them. They were coming hot off the heels from their Download Festival appearance on the Main stage and were now headlining the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire. So I went to see if they were like a fine classic rock wine or perhaps an old bottle that should have been decanted a while ago.
Before Tesla could take to the stage I happened to catch the support band, Wayward Sons. After a few seconds of play I could tell that this was not the rock music that I primarily listen to. The classic hard rock aesthetic of long hair, non-offensive guitar solos and back to back playing from all band members at multiple points during the set felt like a fitting tribute to the way rock gigs used to be.
Wayward Sons were enjoyable, if not a bit too by the books with their songs verging almost to the point of generic classic rock at times. They would fit perfectly in with your Dad's record collection or if you happen to tune into the radio station “Classic Rock” randomly. At the end of the set the lead singer threw his guitar a few feet off to the side for a stagehand to catch and then jumped up for the “big rock ending” like he still had his guitar, this moment was entirely ridiculous and I enjoyed every moment of it.
Wayward Sons mission objective is to play the most Hard Rock you could ever want. Which unfortunately is not an M.O I can get on board on with as it is just something I do not personally listen to. If you are a fan of Hard Rock I would highly recommend - otherwise I would cautiously avoid.
When Tesla were due to begin, the venue began to fill very quickly with a sea of black t-shirts, band patches and denim jackets from front to back filling the Empire. A lot of beautiful long hair styles were adorned by many men on this night, but none more so than Jeff Keith, the lead singer of Tesla.
Keith’s voice really stood out when compared to anyone else on stage that night, reminiscent of Steven Tyler at times whilst also closely matching the tones of Ronnie James Dio at others, Keith’s unique flare was felt visually and auditorily.
From what I could tell, all the songs were about being with your lady or being good to your lady and that sure is a message I can get on board with. The band opened with “Tied to the Tracks” and then lead into “Modern Day Cowboy” after that it was apparent that the longer they were on stage, the more they owned the space within the whole venue.
As they built to the big finish, I felt satisfied. Tesla had made a terrific Hard Rock setlist to please their fans. Whilst I may not have been enamoured with genre to begin with, I can tell that Tesla are masters of the trade. It felt like I was listening to the soundtrack of my Dad’s teenage years but it wasn’t in a bad way, more like a fine wine that had matured its taste to such a point that it knew what it excelled in.