Its hard to believe its almost 20 years since Tesla released their classic “5 Man Acoustical Jam” album, an album which proved that while Bon Jovi may be widely credited with starting the Unplugged craze, Tesla were certainly among the first to release an actual live cd of it. The concept behind the Tesla show was to have fun, play songs they loved along with stripped down versions of their own songs. Fast forward to now, and following what was initially a one off acoustic show at The Diamond back in November for a birthday gig for a long time friend of the band, Million Dollar Reload, or 4 Tools on Stools as they renamed themselves, are back on the Diamond stage ready to go.
But first a word about support act Matt Fitzsimmons. Recently Matt’s band Black Freeway had disbanded, however Matt has in a solo acoustic capacity supported Dan Reed and Ricky Warwick amongst others, so tonight he was a perfect addition to the bill. Playing a blend of acoustic versions of Black Freeway songs and some covers which included Iris, Rockin In The Free World and the classic Here I Go Again, Matt even threw in a cover of Million Dollar Reload’s Living In The City. All credit to the M$R guys, they came out front to watch Matt perform their song and gave it a massive thumbs up!
So to the headliners, a lot of readers will only have heard of Million Dollar Reload recently through the re-release of their album on Powerage, the label owned by Classic Rock magazine, and indeed the Powerage tour that recently traveled the UK. However this is a band who have previously played Download and Hard Rock Hell, and were used by Steven Adler as his touring band for Adlers Appetite when he sacked his main band mid-tour, and of course vocalist Phil was at one time rumoured to be auditioning and rehearsing with Velvet Revolver! Kicking off with their own Tattoos and Dirty Girls, the crowd were instantly kicked into sing-a-long mode! Couple of songs followed which I’ll be honest myself and one or two others weren’t sure what they were but they were good! Vocalist Phil Conalane commented at this point that if anyone doesn’t know ALL the songs they’re playing tonight then there’s the door leave in shame! (hope I redeemed myself later Phil!)
Song after song rolled out, some Black Crowes, some Rolling Stones, Wanted Dead or Alive, drop back in to their own album for a rousing version of The Last Icon complete with extremely loud audience singing it back at the band. Hysteria by Def Leppard, To Be With You by Mr Big, Dude Looks Like A Lady amongst many others. Of course a show like this wouldn’t be complete without a cover of Tesla’s cover of Signs!
I should at this point say I’ve seen M$R many times over the last 5 years and I have never seen Phil do anything other than sing, tonight he gives the band a chance for a toilet break, a beer and a rest, and plays some stuff with just him and an acoustic. A rousing version of Shinedown’s Second Chance was followed by a slowed down acoustic version of new M$R track Bullets In The Sky. Given that “Anthems” is roughly 3 years old now its always good to hear them play more recent stuff they’ve written and I’ve heard Bullets a few times with the full band, but this acoustic version just blew me away!
As you can imagine tonight is all about fun and a lot of banter was had with the audience at the front. Later in the set Phil moved to piano when the band rejoined him, and while they tweaked and tuned their instruments Phil burst into a Black Eyed Peas song lol! Thankfully he redeemed himself by switching to a verse and chorus of Home Sweet Home (proclaiming he only knows 3 chords on piano!) before he and the guys played a full length version of Guns n Roses November Rain, which was pretty much note perfect and a perfect display of what this band can do when they’re just having fun! Some Tenacious D and Steel Panther made an appearance with guitarist Andy Mackle singing a verse and chorus of Community Property while the band set up for the next song!
If you’ve ever seen Pink live you’ll know shes a definite rock chick, and tonight M$R perform a brilliant acoustic version of her track Dear Mr President. Around the 2 hour mark some technical issues developed with monitors, so the band took a 10 minute beer break while the issues were resolved, then returned to play some more! Again, time for some of their own tracks, Goodnight New York, and Keep Holding On then some more covers before inviting Matt back onstage to jam some more with them including Livin On a Prayer, and You Shook Me All Night Long.
Somewhere around 2 hours 45 mins the band were done! An absolutely brilliant night, so much fun, so many great songs, including Million Dollar Reload’s own original material, hopefully 2011 will see them get the big break they deserve. Superb job guys!