Sound: Tesla took a novel approach to it's new DVD Comin' Atcha Live. Rather than the DVD just delivering a straightforward concert with a few interviews thrown in, you could make the statement that Comin Atcha Live will be appreciated as much by gearheads as Tesla's usual fan base. There is a 2-hour concert that covers pretty much every Tesla hit you can think of, but the extras delve into some very specific information about the band's instruments. It's a very cool approach that caps off a solid (and beautifully edited) live DVD.
The main feature is a concert filmed in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Feb. 22, 2008, and it's hard to find holes in the entire performance. From the opening number Comin' Atcha Live, you're in for a guitar-themed experience. Frank Hannon and Dave Rude waste no time in bringing out the solos, which are consistently impressive -- particularly on the multiple harmonies they tackle together. Vocalist Jeff Keith doesn't necessarily move around all that much onstage, but his vocals are still for the most part in tip-top shape.
It's the incredible musicianship between Rude and Hannon that ends up stealing the show. Hannon is as well-rounded as they get, playing everything from the keyboard to the theremin to the slide guitar. Rude is able to keep up with Hannon throughout, and the acoustic intro to Love Song is just phenomenal. What starts out as almost a complex Spanish solo transitions beautifully into the original acoustic intro, and if you're already a fan of the song, you know it just builds and builds from there. Other highlights include Modern Day Cowboy, Paradise, Heaven's Trail, and Lil' Suzi.
We are given a taste of Tesla's upcoming to-be-released album with a ballad called Dear Pvt. Ledbetter. While it brings the energy down slightly during the concert, it's still a well thought-out ode to the American troops. Although the band did experience some of their biggest moments career-wise because of their Five Man Acoustical Jam album, the evening truly is all about how truly solid Tesla is as a rock band. // 9
Content: While the show is entertaining, it's actually the bonus section that is the biggest draw -- at least if you're a musician. The band members go through pretty much every piece of gear they have, describing in detail when and why they selected the specific equipment. If you're curious as to what certain knobs do on a certain Marshall amp or how exactly a talk box works, Hannon will cover it in full. I cannot stress how great this section is. It's not necessarily something every fan will be interested in, but guitarists should find it not only interesting, but helpful in their own search for equipment as well. There is some other behind-the-scenes footage, but the gear talk is by far the most worthwhile. // 9
Production Quality: The camera crew and director wisely chose to shoot the Minnesota concert in HD, and it makes such a difference in the viewing experience. Even more impressive is the direction that occurs during the concert. The crew obviously had it planned out to a tee because they are at all of the right places at the right times. You'd be surprised how many live DVDs pan to the singer during a key guitar solo, and it just seems like they have no clue as to what is happening in a song. In this case, the production crew of Comin' Atcha Live got it completely right, and it shows there was plenty of thought put into how to navigate every camera. // 10
Overall Impression: Tesla might not have been in the public eye as much in the past 10 or so years, but this is a band that deserves to carry their career into 2008 and after. They make few jokes about their Headbanger's Ball days, but their songs have stayed fresh 20 years later. If you're wanting an entire section devoted only to their acoustic work, you're not going to get it on Comin Atcha' Live. But if you're a fan of Tesla or enjoy a band that is always willing to tweak guitar solos to make them fresh or interesting, this is a DVD for you. // 9