TESLA, POETS & PORNSTARS, Saltair, Friday

MAGNA — Attention aspiring guitar-based rock bands: Get thee to a Tesla show and take notes.

The Sacramento-based quintet gave one of their best Utah performances in years Friday night, showing that after more than 20 years the band is still a force to be reckoned when it comes to putting on a straight-forward rock concert.

Tesla played for two hours before a full Saltair crowd, blending a great mix of crowd-pleasing radio hits, deep cuts that haven't been played in the Beehive State in years and songs from their new covers album, "Real to Reel."

Songs off the band's 1986 debut "Mechanical Resonance" had fans loudly singing along early on, including favorites "Modern Day Cowboy," "Gettin' Better" and "Rock Me," a great show opener that hasn't been played in Utah for many tours. Other rarely played gems included "Government Personnel/Freedom Slaves" and "Hang Tough."

Friday's show was a make-up date from earlier this year when Tesla was forced to cancel due to singer Jeff Keith losing his voice. That actually may have worked out in Utah's favor as the band, with a few extra shows under its belt, was tight, well polished and Keith's voice showed no signs of his prior illness, although he did take a few assists on the high notes from guitarist Frank Hannon.

Fans sang loudly to the big hits, "Signs," "Heaven's Trail (No Way Out)," "Into The Now" and the monster ballads "Love Song" and "What You Give." Just as pleasing were some of the "new" songs, including outstanding versions of Led Zeppelin's "Thank You" and The Beatles' "I've Got a Feeling," two of the highlights of the evening.

Hannon and Dave Rude traded lightning-quick guitar solos all night, including on a great rendition of "Cumin' Atcha Live." But near the end of the show it was Hannon giving a clinic on his Flying V guitars by ripping through solos on songs such as UFO's "Rock Bottom," another show highlight.

Other than some on-going minor technical issues and some suspect sound mixing early on, Tesla proved that if they keep playing like this, they could easily keep coming to Utah for another 20 years.


E-mail: preavye@desnews.com