Hard rockers TESLA returned to Atlanta, Georgia, on Sunday night, November 14, 2021 to play the Coca-Cola Roxy – which sits in the literal shadow of Truist Park, home to the WORLD CHAMPION ATLANTA BRAVES (more on that later) – as part of the second leg of their fall “Let’s Get Real!” tour. For those that have caught TESLA throughout their past few tours, joining them on this leg was familiar – and stellar – supporting act Bad Marriage from Boston, with Chase Engel & the Night Shift rounding out the bill.
Being unfamiliar with Chase Engel prior to the show, I did a little research, as I assumed not just any band could be placed on a tour with TESLA. As I came to learn, they are under the tutelage of J Street Entertainment, the production company founded by none-other-than TESLA’s bass player, Brian Wheat. And after nearly 40 years in this business, Wheat clearly has the ear for talent.
Chase Engel & the Night Shift took the stage right around 8pm, to a relatively already-full venue. They are somewhat hard to describe, but really fun to watch and have their own distinct rock sound and choreographed stage moves. Check out the video below for their song “Sorry” to get a better taste of it. Sadly they announced they only had a 25-minute set, but they made the most of it, including busting out a saxophone at one point, and covering Elton John’s “Rocket Man” in their own distinct style, which my 16-year-old guitarist son thought was amazing.
CHASE ENGEL & THE NIGHT SHIFT
Chase Engel – lead vocals
Connor Schrems – lead guitar
Noah Schieber – rhythm guitar, saxophone, keyboard
Jason King – bass
Matt Gottlieb – drums
Keeping with the “Brian Wheat” theme, Bad Marriage has been working with Wheat for a few years now, including co-writing and producing their song “Together” released in June 2020. This was my third time catching them, and each time I am more impressed than the last. For anyone concerned that “rock is dead,” please do yourself a favor and familiarize yourself with Bad Marriage. To get you started, I suggest one of the two songs that hooked me, “Old School Stereo” or “Ready Aim Fire.” And in fact, you may have even heard their song “Nay Sayin’ Blues” on a Fanatics TV commercial.
Besides their continued songwriting maturity – as evidenced by their latest single below, “Second Hand Smoke” – the guys in Bad Marriage couldn’t be more personable and fan-friendly, which in an industry that has totally changed since TESLA started, is definitely going to be a key to future success. In fact, even during the show, some fan yelled out from the third row to lead guitarist Mike “Fitzy” Fitz for a guitar pick, to which Fitz responded “I got you, bro” and made sure that fan did pocket one. After the show, you can always find the guys working the merchandise table, taking photos, and if you are one of the lucky ones, you might even catch yourself standing next to charismatic lead singer Jonny Paquin in the venue pit during TESLA’s set like I did!
Following Bad Marriage’s energetic set, the stage was turned over to the headliner, with TESLA amping up the nearly sold-out crowd with the rocking opening tune of “Cumin’ Atcha Live” from the Mechanical Resonance album, followed by “Modern Day Cowboy.” Having seen TESLA dozens of times over the years (decades?), I would like to think I am still somewhat objective in comparing Sunday night to prior shows when I say that this was the best I have seen them in recent memory. Maybe it was pent up band energy from the pandemic. Or, maybe it was a different attitude that Steve Brown brought behind the drum kit, or perhaps it was just a great night for music? No matter the reasons, fans in Atlanta were rewarded with a spectacular show.
The setlist (posted below) was phenomenal, arguably a greatest hits evening; any time I get “Song and Emotion” and “Little Suzi” in the same night, I am elated. Sure, if there was time for 20 songs, I would have also loved to have heard “Hang Tough” and “Gettin’ Better” as well. The recently released “Cold Blue Steel” is a great addition (video below), and “Miles Away” really kicks you in the teeth live. Coca-Cola Roxy fans were also treated to a special guest on Sunday night, as Paul Jackson from Blackberry Smoke joined Dave Rude and Frank Hannon on guitar for the Led Zeppelin cover of “Thank you” from the Reel to Reel album. Blackberry Smoke is an Atlanta-based band, and if you know anything about TESLA, Hannon is a huge fan and has been seen on stage many times wearing their t-shirts.
You know you are likely getting towards the end of the evening when the acoustics are brought out – “Love Song,” anyone? But in full disclosure, I also bumped into lead singer Jeff Keith walking around The Battery (the shopping and restaurant area that surrounds Truist Park) prior to the show. He had bought some Braves gear for the evening, so while I knew it was going to happen, the crowd went crazy when Keith walked back out during the start of “Signs” with his hair tucked up under a Braves baseball hat. Well played, Jeff, well played. It was a fitting touch to help top off a magical, musical night, which ended with a fans dancing in the aisles to the encore of “Little Suzi.”
Steve Brown – drums, percussion (substitute for Troy Luccketta)
Frank Hannon – guitar, backing vocals, keyboards, piano, organ, theremin, bass, mandolin, harmonica
Jeff Keith – lead vocals
Dave Rude – guitar, backing vocals, bass
Brian Wheat – bass, backing vocals, keyboards, piano
1.) Cumin’ Atcha Live
2.) Modern Day Cowboy
3.) Cold Blue Steel
4.) Breakin’ Free
5.) Heaven’s Trail
6.) Mama’s Fool
7.) Miles Away
9.) Thank You (Led Zeppelin cover)
11.) Rock Me To The Top
12.) Song and Emotion
13.) What You Give
14.) Call It What You Want
15.) Edison’s Medicine
16.) Love Song
18.) Little Suzi (encore)
Follow Chase Engel & The Night Shift Online
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Elliott is a music photographer covering shows in Atlanta, Georgia, and the surrounding area. The highlight of his photography career was back in the early ’90s, when he sold Neil Diamond the rights to his negatives from a show and then purchased a set of tires for his 1979 280ZX during college with the money.