Friday, November 19, 2004

Ted Leo

Just when I thought this fall's concert season couldn't possibly get any better, it found a way to top itself yet again.

I cannot remember the last time I was rocked as hard as the Ted Leo show rocked me last night.

It was a sort of unfathomably good night. First opener A Set was a bit on the bland side, but whatever. The Natural History surprised us all by being sexy and solid despite the lead singer's relative toolishness. (We were speculating the entire set as to where and what his inevitable small, tasteful tattoo was.) The Tossers were . . . amazing. An Irish punk rock party fueled by drunkenness and righteous indignation and an electric mandolin. And what can possibly be said to do justice to Ted and his Pharmacists?

Everyone says how incredible he is in concert, but he is truly one of those musical phenomena that must be seen to be believed. There were times when his right hand was a total blur, he was playing so fast. The weaknesses in his voice that sometimes get unfortunately magnified on his recordings positively melt away under the heat of a live performance. He's the real deal, kittens. There was such a great feeling in the room. He broke a string on what would have been their final song (I think it was "Shake the Sheets"), then apologized and said, "we can't go out on a string break like that. If it's OK with the drummer and the bass player, we'll play some more, all right?" And then they just kept playing. He didn't seem to want to stop, the audience couldn't get enough, members of the Tossers started spilling out onto the stage from the wings and taking swigs from Ted's bottle of Jameson. Granted, the show didn't start until 9, but we didn't get out of there until something like 12:45. Even Giddy said it was one of the best shows she's seen in a long time.

And, even if it had only been a mediocre show, their collective facial hair alone would have been worth the price of admission. Go to the photos section of the official site, and marvel at the drummer's Richie Tenenbaum caliber beard and imagine the fro-tastic bass player with some mightily impressive whiskers of his own.

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