PHOTOS + REVIEW — Tesla Tampa 2024

Tesla • January 16, 2024 • Seminole Hard Rock — Tampa, FL • Photos by Randy Cook —

REVIEW — Tesla 

January 16, 2024 /// Seminole Hard Rock Tampa Event Center, Tampa, FL

Review By: Randy Cook /// @horns_raised

Veteran rockers Tesla played to a sold out crowd for the first of their two shows at the Hard Rock Live in Tampa on their ‘Keepin’ It Real’ 2024 Tour. This was my first time at this venue and I had heard from friends how intimate the venue is, with great sight lines, fantastic acoustics and fellow photographers mentioned how great the lighting is. For me there was a lot of excitement going into this show as this would be my fifteenth time seeing Tesla. With the band not sailing onboard the Monsters of Rock Cruise this year and my attendance at the Mountain Music Festival, where Tesla is one of the headliners, not assured as of yet, it was a no brainer when I saw these local dates announced that I had to go. Any band that you have already seen fourteen times is an obvious favorite and this is a band I grew up listening to. 

Tesla is a band that I have been a fan of since my discovery of their music with their debut release “Mechanical Resonance” back when MTV played music videos. My first time seeing them live was in 1989 and this show (as well as every other prior show of theirs) is a stroll down memory lane for me. I appreciate their straight-up solid rock n roll with no frills – solid song construction combined with the passion of each band member’s delivery and interaction with the fans. 

My friend Travis goes with me to the show and we arrive at the venue and strategically park where it is closest for me to get back to the car to stow my gear after taking photos. I made the suggestion to my on-site contact that they should have a secure area near the box office for this as I was already calculating how much of the show I would miss having to go back to my car. Honestly I got the feeling the venue just turned a huge ballroom into this music venue, adding in some stadium like seating and constructing a stage. I think I was expecting an actual theater type setting more so than just a big room set up for concerts. I was surprised how good acoustically it sounded in there and for that reason alone I will be sure to keep my eye out for future announced shows.

Opening the show was Kurt Deimer and his band. He is a musician and an actor and I was only in the venue for the three songs of his I got to photo. The band covered “Have A Cigar” by Pink Floyd and that was the song of theirs that stood out to me. As we were leaving the venue after the show, we encountered him out by the merchandise table.  We had a great conversation about how this was both Travis’ and my second time seeing them live, his band, his music and his acumen as a businessman, both in the music business as well as the oil industry. From the little bit we conversed, he sounds like a fascinating person and was very gracious to take the time to interact with us and other fans after his set.

Tesla took the stage to a standing and energized crowd, opening their set with “Lady Luck”, and having enough solid music in their discography to play that first big hit song on MTV that hooked me so early in the set, as “Modern Day Cowboy” had the entire crowd singing along. “Hang Tough” was up next and concluded my time behind the lens. Then it was a mad dash to the lobby to get my cameras packed away and then out to the car. It was a little bit of a bummer to miss one of my favorite songs of theirs, but rules are rules and I would like to photo at this venue again in the future. Props to Travis’ friend for suggesting that strategically placed parking spot! 

I make it back to the lobby during “Miles Away” and I wait until the end of the song to make my way into the isle and to my seat. “Changes” is up next and now I can finally sit back and enjoy the music and show. The band changes (nice segue song!) from electric to acoustic to pay homage to their fantastic live album, ‘Five Man Acoustical Jam’ and launch into the song that always bring my heart to its knees, “Paradise”. Vivid memories of my days past and life’s triumphs and agonies I associate with this song. Even having not heard it for years, I know every word and I savored the feeling this song brought about. “Gettin’ Better” was up next and that song is some serious personal empowerment therapy with the positivity that song projects about no matter how bad a situation in life is, there are better days ahead. The catchy “Love Me” led into “Call It What You Want” and then when “What You Give” hit my ears, I closed my eyes for a few moments of self-reflection. These songs take me back to life events that have such thought provoking emotion within me to where I once was. I open my eyes and appreciate where life has taken me; I can then enjoy the current moment that much more and got back to joining in the sing along.

The theremin is unleashed for “Edison’s Medicine (Man Out of Time)” and it’s fascinating to see it used live. “Love Song” was a literal sing along and is another one that takes me back to my early twenties and again brings out my appreciation for the life experiences I have had. As the band launched into “Little Suzi” I don’t think there was a single person still seated. The band then came back out for a one song encore playing their cover of “Signs” and concluded the song to a standing ovation. The fifteen song set was a greatest hits of these timeless rockers. Some of these songs bring back such vivid memories of experiences in my life and I think that is part of my continual draw to see them live repeatedly. 

I would venture to say that every song played this evening was the favorite song of someone in attendance as I saw continual evidence of air guitars, air drums and many people putting their head back to try and hit the same note and length as lead singer Jeff Keith.  With the twin guitar attack of Frank Hannon and Dave Rude, and bassist Brian Wheat and drummer Steve Brown holding down the rhythm section the band sounded as crisp and as awesome as ever. 

During the set, Travis leaned over and said to me how Steve “…is a monster on those drums” and we were not sure why, but during the last few notes of “What You Give” one of the stagehands came on stage to the drum kit and replaced the snare drum. We were like, wow, he really is bashing those skins tonight! The band also showed their appreciation for this show being a sell out and encouraging all of us to come to the show the next night. While I would love to, it just was not realistic and of course Travis and I wondered what set list changes, if any, would be in order for the next night. 

Looking at the set list from Tesla’s second Tampa show, the band did open with a different song and re-ordered most of the set list from the night before, they added in “We’re No Good Together”, which probably would have brought me to man tears, and there was a sixteen song set list for the second show.

With how strong this band is live, Tesla truly are still kicking ass and I encourage anyone and everyone to go and see them live at least once. See their current tour dates here. My fifteenth Tesla show kicked ass! I was able to check out a new venue, I got to hang out with a great friend and see other friends at the show and witness one of my all-time favorite bands put on a fantastic performance! \m/




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