Reviews:: Ted Leo / Pharmacists live @ Richard's on Richards

The last time Ted Leo & Pharmacists (nice new site design) rolled into Vancouver, I made the simple observation that the band was one of the few that seemed to be aging with me. All too often bands evolve and artists you love go in a different direction than you do, and you are left with a hearty sense of nostalgia. Ted Leo is an artist. I’m not talking physically – although gone was the t-shirt, in it’s place a button-up nicely tucked into his white pants – but I mean maturing in his life outlook and songwriting.

Ted’s, more so than almost any other artist out there today, is conscious of his words and his values. Unlike so many artists, Ted exists in a world greater than sound bites and headlines. He speaks out for his generation, but it isn’t with the anger of confusion. It is the anger of frustration; frustration at a system that seems to be getting worse. He isn’t sending out his words in angry bursts of “George Bush hates black people” shock, but rather through well thought out, lucid sentences. He’s angry, but understands that simply being angry doesn’t get your point across. Simply yelling about a cause you know nothing about is useless. He raises his voice for emphasis, not just to be heard. He doesn’t curse because he has nothing to say, but more to grab your attention with frank, honest emotion. He’s trying to move past the foolish things he did as a younger man (in this case, the fact they covered Kelly Clarkson because people always scream it out. I must say though, he summed up his thoughts on that song perfectly – “It’s never going to happen. I’m not embarrassed it was something we did, but it would be horrible if it’s something we do.”)

What this means, at least to me, is that the band’s live show is continually improving and exceeding my expectations. I’m sure my love for the band influenced my enjoyment Wednesday night, but this was probably the best set I’ve seen the band play (which is crazy when you realize that Ted was sick and his guitar was falling apart). The first reason was the pleasant surprise that the band is a four-piece again. To help capture the sounds of the new record – Living with the Living – Ted invited former Pharmacist James Canty to join the band on the road. The result was an even fuller sound and really let the band crank up the songs. With an extra rhythm guitar, the band had the chance to add longer builds and outros, making it impossible for the crowd to stand still. From the opening notes of Sons of Cain, the crowd raised glasses, jumped and smiled for the next hour and fifteen minutes.

The nice thing about Ted’s catalog is that songs he wrote 6 years ago still fit into the sets. Timorous Me stands side-by-side with La Costa Brava and Walking to Do. As a result, he’s able to impress fans both new and old. I’ve written about Ted’s shows for years, so there is no need to go on and on, but I was surprised that some of my favorite songs they played were the songs from the new record that I was only lukewarm on. The dubbed out vibe of The Unwanted Things, the Manic Street Preachers tinged The Lost Brigade and the frantic, chaos of Bomb.Repeat.Bomb translated perfectly into the set.

For anyone on the fence about seeing Ted again, do yourself a favor and get your ticket today. He’s a great performer and a spokesman for a generation at a time we really need one.

Video:: Bottle of Bucky (live @ Richard’s on Richards April 18th/07) ** will be uploaded later, as it's still crapping out

@ 2:52 PM, Anonymous kicked the following game:

I've seen TL/RX probably about 12 times or more and I agree this show was up there. Can't wait to see the BOB video you have, especially cause he dedicated it to me!!!


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