Live: Ted Leo & Lemuria @ Brighton Music Hall 06-15-18

Live: Ted Leo & Lemuria @ Brighton Music Hall 06-15-18

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Seeing Ted Leo play live is not something I take lightly. It’s deeply embedded in my DNA at this point. It’s something I started doing over 10 years ago with people who would go on to become some of my closest friends. Seeing Ted Leo and listening to him is more than just the music: it’s a walk down memory lane. And as the man took a break from music, I took a break from that connection.

Ted Leo has now captured my attention once again not just because he’s having Lemuria open for him at the Boston dates, but also because he’s playing Hearts of Oak in full: an album that is probably essential for any music collection. Any good music collection at least.

Right away, what delighted me was that this was going to be a tightly controlled night: it was a Friday show with set times that were being honored. Yes, it’s not a punk thing to say, but punctuality makes a difference once you get older. I want to rock out, but also want my time to be used efficiently.

Lemuria played an impressive set, focusing quite a bit on their newest and older releases. Say what you will about the band, but their tendency for melody is probably one of their defining characteristics. And sure enough, frontwoman and shredder Sheena Ozella delivered her notes perfectly while dominating on the guitar. It was no-nonsense as the band moved through their set with skill and ease, while still playing some tricks up their sleeve with the more complicated numbers like Kicking It.

Then, the headliner Ted Leo. I was a bit concerned at first hearing the opener Building Skyscrapers in the Basement: his voice sounded a bit worn. But then, in one of those all-too-missed Ted Leo banters, he explains: I’m fighting a bit of a Summer cold. Ah, that explains it. I was then able to put any concerns behind me and settle into the show. With a large lineup of 6 performers, I kind of forget how complex the music on Hearts of Oak could actually be. I love bare-bones performances but at the same time, appreciate the effort bands put into playing a rich show. That they did. There is so much significant content in this album, musically and lyrically, and seeing it all being brought to life on stage was like being transported to the past. It was magical in a way. And Ted’s sense of humor was prominent throughout, whether it was volleying heckles from the crowd or issuing self-deprecating jokes.

One would hope this isn’t just a one-off experience and that Ted will try to do these full-album performances for often. I haven’t seen this approach to live shows being accomplished so well. And for fans, it’s nothing sort of a music highlight in their lives.

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