I should hang my head in shame for not giving proper due diligence to Mr. Teddy "Rock Star" Leo and his Pharmacists. This post feels like a confession, "Father, bless me for I have sinned. It's been four years since the last time I saw Ted Leo." Things happen, my friends, and excuses pile up, but finally a decent amount of space will be given to Theodore and his crew.
Tonight's show was a warm-up to his huge, important moment, when he opens for Pearl Jam at Madison Square Garden and other large arenas. How awesome is that? He was saying that he hopes Eddie Vedder doesn't have to come out and tell the crowd to be cool to him.
No doubt about it, Ted is a must-see live act and tonight, he was just as good as ever. His energy and charisma was on full display, and the man shows no sign of stopping or easing things up after 17 years of playing post-punk pop music.
The setlist had a few new tunes, so I'll just list songs I recognized in no particular order.
- Sons of Cain
- Me and Mia
- Army Bound
- The Angels' Share
- Counting Down the Hours
- Unwanted Things
- Who Do You Love?
- Timourous Me
- The World Is In The Terlet
He played about 15 more songs than that, a good 80 minutes of awesomeness. To see him is to experience rock music without all the tricks and homages that is popular most of today's rock 'n' roll, synth sounds, echo effects and generally studio nonsense. With Ted, it's all done the old fashion way -- amps, pedals and microphones. It's as raw and real a rock show as you're going to get in thet style that he performs in. That post-punk era where punk met pop and you didn't have to dress like punk to play punk music.
Also with Ted's show, it's just full out up-tempo tracks -- no screwing around with sappy songs. Even when he just does a few songs solo, they are done with a spastic energy and a lot of emotion. As you can tell by these pictures, Ted goes through a myriad of facial quirks to truly live within the music he writes.
The great thing about Ted is that he's released seven EPs or albums in nine years with another one coming this year, so even if you're just coming into the fold, you have plenty of material to get acquainted to his work. I'm partial to Hearts of Oak and last year's Living With The Living.
The man and his band is a fixture in New Jersey, being the pride of Bloomfield, NJ and living there even after he made a career as a performer. After taking a break and moving to Rhode Island, he's back in the area to rock more pants and socks off. Tonight, he did so with unbridled enthusiasm and little of that New Jersey wit between songs, riffing on the lessons learned from the G.I. Joe cartoon.
If you're not familiar with the goodness of Ted, feel free to get off this space and find a few tunes like "Bottle of Buckie" or "Counting Down the Hours". You're not invited back here until you do so.
As a side note, he's one of the coolest, nicest rock guys you'll ever come across ... also one of the sweatiest.