Tesla Energizes Their Eighties Classic for Sold-Out Hard Rock Event Center Audience 

Live Review

Jeff Keith and Frank Hannon of Tesla. Photo by Chyrisse.

By Tampa Earl Burton, Journalist, and Chyrisse Tabone, Photographer

Live Review: Tesla with Kurt Deimer at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Tampa, FL – January 16, 2023

For those who go to concerts at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa, the normal thought is to go to the MidFlorida Amphitheater on the grounds. But there is another venue on the Hard Rock property, the Hard Rock Events Center, that many overlook. Not only did the Events Center turn out to be a great spot for a concert, but the venue was also the perfect host for the Eighties hard rock band Tesla’s two-night stand that happened on January 16-17.  

“Still Kickin’ Ass” After Forty Years 

Jeff Keith and Frank Hannon of Tesla. Photo by Chyrisse.

Tesla was always one of the underrated bands that emerged from the “hair metal” era, but to put the band from Sacramento, CA, in that vein of music would be a misnomer. From the time they started in the early Eighties Tesla – yes, named after the famous scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla – provided an excellent mix of hard-hitting rock music with a bit of heart and intelligence in the mix. That was featured prominently on the rare Tuesday night show at the Hard Rock Events Center as Tesla wowed the sold-out crowd over a tight ninety-minute show.  

Primarily concentrating on their first trio of albums – Mechanical Resonance, The Great Radio Controversy, and Psychotic Supper – singer Jeff Keith ably worked his way through the band’s Eighties classics while keeping the fans entertained thoroughly. The major surprise of the night was lead guitarist Frank Hammon, who seemingly is drinking from the Fountain of Youth to maintain his nimble guitar styling. Hammon’s playing throughout the night was scintillating and it was the major force that drove the show.  

There were some slight changes to the overall setlist – dropped from previous performances were songs like “Hang Tough” and “Lazy Days, Crazy Nights” in favor of an acoustic “Sweet Paradise” (which gave the crowd a chance to catch their breath) and “Gettin’ Better” – but the changes made for a much better-flowing show. Regardless of the songs played, the 1500 Tesla fans in attendance for the Tuesday night show were completely transfixed by the band and their performance. By the conclusion of the show, a rollicking encore of the Five Man Electrical Band’s “Signs,” there was an energy flowing through the Events Center that was not there previously. 

Kurt Deimer An Excellent Choice to Open 

Kurt Deimer. Photo by Chyrisse.

Leading off the festivities for the evening was the rocker/actor Kurt Deimer, who was an excellent choice to open for Tesla. Deimer, who had a prominent role in the 2018 Halloween film, brought a tight and powerful five-piece to the stage for Tuesday night’s show, running through a litany of hard rock hitters that won over the Hard Rock crowd before Tesla’s performance. 

The night started with a viewing of the trailer for a film that Deimer stars in, Hellbilly Hollow, but from there it was all about Deimer’s music. Deimer and the band moved seamlessly through his catalog, featuring Deimer’s tracks from his 2021 EP Work Hard, Rock Hard. The band and Deimer also went back to the beginnings of Deimer’s musical career, his powerful cover of Pink Floyd’s “Have a Cigar” (given a much meatier, hard rock sound here than the prog rock original). 

Part of the appeal of Deimer is that he has the Everyman look (imagine if Zakk Wylde stood in front of you), but his music, while it is in the vein of a Five Finger Death Punch/Rob Zombie sound, always has an optimistic sound to it. Deimer’s “Hero” (which he used as a salute to first responders, the medical community, and military and law enforcement) emphasized this point, pointing out that we all need people that we can count on in our lives.  

Events Center Excellent for Concert Venue 

Dave Rude of Tesla. Photo by Chyrisse.

On a final note, the Hard Rock Events Center turned out to be an excellent venue for a rock concert. I have been in the room before, for another usage, so I was a bit skeptical about how it would be for such a show as this. Perhaps because of the minimalist approach by Tesla and Deimer – there wasn’t a great deal of flash or pomposity from either band, with truly little lighting or pyro on the stage – the Events Center was a perfect setting for them to perform. If you have ever questioned whether to see a concert in this particular setting, you can quash them as the Hard Rock Events Center more than fulfills the job of a theater concert venue. 

The Tesla/Kurt Deimer Band show certainly delivered the goods for fans of hard rock, whether it is from the Eighties (in Tesla’s case) or the more current hybrid rock stylings (epitomized by Deimer). The two acts meshed well together, providing an evening of entertainment that didn’t disappoint anyone in the Hard Rock Events Center that night. If you have the chance to see either band perform, you would be doing yourself a disservice by missing the show.  





Tampa Earl