Tesla Rock Nashville's Ryman Auditorium

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By Alma Reed

Ah yes, the early 1990s. HW Bush, Gorbachev and Ninja Turtles. The internet wasn’t around so tough guys kicked people’s asses instead of trolling on social media. The androgyny of glam rock had gradually waned to tolerable levels. And mere months before Nirvana’s Nevermind would inexorably alter the landscape of guitar driven rock music and wouldn’t recover for 20 years.

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 Back in those days they had these things called radios. If you turned on one of these doodads anywhere in the US during this magical and whimsical time, you stood a good chance of having your soul liberated with Tesla songs like Love Song, What You Give and a cover of Signs originally by Five Man Electrical Band. 

Tesla fell off my radar over the years, so I was thrilled to find out they would be performing at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. 

Power trio Voices Of Extreme opened the show. Their songs throw hard rock and harmonic metal into a head-on collision. Singer Don Chaffin also delivers an admirable tribute to Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. VOX set a high bar for the evening.

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 Year Of The Locust went on next and kicked the energy level up a few notches. Hard-rock meets heavy metal, these guys wail. With lots of heavy riffage and soaring vocals, YOTL provides an effective segue to the night’s main event.

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 When you go see a band like Tesla, you can expect certain things. You will be among some seriously long-term and hard-core fans. There will be more than a few dudes with long hair in leather jackets and hot babes in low-cut tops and tight jeans.  

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Singer Jeff Keith has swagger and can belt it out. His voice has an added dimension of rasp that wasn’t as rich in earlier days. Guitarists Frank Hannon and Dave Rude can rock a crowd while shredding tight harmonized solos. Bassist Brian Wheat holds up the bottom end draped in a red-sequin dinner jacket like Rod Roddy from The Price Is Right. Drummer Troy Luccketta rocks amid a bustling metropolis of drums and cymbals with a million watts of stage lights beaming up his backside. 

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1700 people packed the Ryman and hardly one sat the whole time Tesla performed, cheering and dancing in the aisles. Not bad for a Tuesday night!