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Ted Leo/Rx - Live

9:30 Club
Washington, DC
Thursday, 6-23-05

Ted Leo and his backing pair, drummer Chris Wilson and bassist Dave Lerner, have the touch. They have the (eyes squeezed shut) poooowwwweeer! Sorry, lapsed into Stan Bush's immortal theme song from the Transformers movie, there.

Really though, I am a shameless Ted Leo/Rx fanboy. I am a Tedlevangelist. And every time I see him live - which is often - I am brought back.

Didn't see Mary Timony open - I find her music and performance interesting, but not particularly re-watchable. Radio 4 (four?) has the same problem, though seeing them reminded me how much I like "Absolute Affirmation" - much better than their would-be breakthrough-hits "Partycrashers" or "Dance to the Underground".

Though Mr. Leo and his Pharmacists never disappoint live, and have a catalog with few misses, I was hoping for a little more last night. I heard nothing new, and Leo's covers (Stiff Little Fingers'Suspect Device and Split Enz' Six Months in a Leaky Boat) are becoming his standard encore. No Rush, no Thin Lizzy. These remain the stuff of legend.

The hold Leo has on his music, and on the crowd, is undeniable. The sight of a full 9:30 Club rocking to their classic-punk-new-wave-ska-?-rock was pretty cool. A lot of younger folks there, which bodes well for Leo and the Pharmacists' future. Leo's shows also generally seem to have fewer "concert idiots" in attendance than others - I guess he's not cool enough to bring in the scene-makers, or OC'd enough to bring in the, er, jackasses who like The OC.

Leo's albums are fantastic, and while I wouldn't classify him as a "recordings just don't capture their music" kind of band, these songs always sound better live - with Leo flailing at his guitar, making a whole lot of sound for one man, Lerner thumping on the bass with a vacant look in his eye, and Wilson breaking drumsticks and looking like he's about to cry. Maybe I just like my music fast and loud. Sometimes.

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