Ted Leo & The Pharmacists live @ Crystal Ballroom, Somerville MA, [09-07-23]

Ted Leo & The Pharmacists live @ Crystal Ballroom, Somerville MA, [09-07-23]

Friday, 08 September 2023

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 20 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 for his first show in 5 years, he chose Boston: a town he has some connections with. Like he himself joked, “I’m well acquainted with Davis Square, as well as JP. And that part on Kirkland Street between Harvard and Inman.” He wasn’t pandering, but the crowd was loving it.

Right away, what delighted me was that this was going to be a tightly controlled night: it was a Thursday night and the earlier the set times, the better. 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.

Ted Leo took the stage to cheers from the crowd and donning a priest shirt. Not sure why, but I’m too embarrassed to ask. The man is in his 50s, would he still be able to rock our faces off? Opening the set with Timorous Me, I was then able to put any concerns behind me and settle into the show. The stage absolutely exploded during the crescendo, and that level of energy was maintained throughout the set. I love bare-bones performances but at the same time, appreciate the effort bands put into playing a rich show. That they did. Not wanting to become a nostalgia act, the band threw in some new songs into the set (hopefully, these will show up on a new album soon?), but of course the classics are what really hit that night, like Where Have all the Rudeboys Gone, Me and Mia, Angel’s Share, I’m a Ghost, the High Party, and Biomusicology. Ted’s sense of humor was prominent throughout, whether it was volleying heckles from the crowd or issuing self-deprecating jokes.

What a magnificent night for everyone involved. There’s this old joke about people coming home with skulls for faces after a Ted Leo show. You know why? Because their faces were blown clean off. I used to think that was funny. Now, I’m taking it seriously.

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