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Ted Leo and the Pharmacists: live in Kearnylive in Kearny (2009)
Touch and Go Records
Reviewer Rating: 4
Contributed by: TorgoTorgo
(others by this writer | submit your own)
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists playing in their home state at essentially a VFW? Let’s do it. But first, the only opening band, Titus Andronicus.
During “Me and Mia” Ted Leo broke his D string and during the second reggae-ish verse he ran to the side of the stage, popped open his hard-shell guitar case and plugged in his spare guitar faster than anyone I’ve ever seen in my life. Integrating himself back into the song wasn’t as seamless, however. Ted thought the band was going into a different part of the chorus. But after realizing they weren’t on the same page Ted screamed “STOP!” and started the last chorus by himself and the band came in, everyone on stage laughing.
Ted’s parents were both at the show and he informed us that the referee in the “Colleen” video was his father, and retroactively dedicated that song to him. Ted was his usual charming self -- talking with the crowd, narrating some amusing anecdotes. He was under the weather and coughed through many breaks in the set. He seemed a little surprised, telling the audience “I don’t drink that much, I’m vegan, I exercise...why do I keep getting sick?” Of course the crowd responded with “You need to drink more!” He also mentioned getting bit by a tick in Tennessee which didn’t help.
An underappreciated aspect of Ted Leo and the Pharmacists’s show is guitarist James Canty. He plays off Ted very well, interweaving guitar leads, and I always looked forward to him soloing (more aggressive and primal), a nice counterbalance in the songs with a pop foundation.
As the Pharmacists went to go get beers, Ted started the encore by himself playing “Dirty Old Town” and “Fisherman’s Blues,” both very fitting as we were in an Irish American Club. The crowd got a kick out of them both, especially the former, which a girl to my left was screaming for at every set break. It also helped that it was dedicated to Kearny and Bloomfield, NJ, areas of Ted Leo’s youth. “Timorous Me,” of course, got the biggest crowd reaction, with a handful of guys holding two beers each coming from the middle of the floor to the front to dance in front of Ted Leo. “Walking to Do” and “Stove by a Whale” continued the most intense part of the set as the band never seemed more locked in than during “Stove by a Whale,” complete with four-man fills and ringing distortion. The guitarists leaned their guitars in front of their amps, thanked the crowd and ran off the stage, Chris Wilson to the outside for a smoke.
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