There is a certain draw to Ted Leo that none of his fans, including myself, can explain. If it helps to get the point across, I went to the show with the flu, and quite the fever to accompany my night. I would have thrown a fit if I had to miss out on the sold out performance at The Empty Bottle in Chicago this past Saturday.
When I walked in, the venue was packed, so I had to squeeze my way up to the front. As The Pharmacists were setting up their equipment, I realized that Dorian Gerry, their keyboardist was not with them. Later, Teddy would explain that she had a medical problem that she had to attend to, but would be back hopefully soon.
After anxiously waiting for the night to kick in, Ted Leo and The Pharmacists took the stage at 12:15 am, opening with "Dial Up" off of their 2001 release, The Tyranny of Distance. I took notice right away to the "No War" inscription made from duct tape on Teddy's Sheridan II guitar. It was definitely a statement that the audience appreciated, seeing that many of them came in with "No War" pins on. This was not the only reference to what was going on in the world around us. Of course, due to all of the club activity on the news recently, Teddy pointed towards each exit in the venue and stated, "Make sure to note where the exits are and be careful not to trample each other."
Teddy and the Rxís then slipped right into "2nd Ave., 11 AM," off of the band's latest release, Hearts of Oak, on Lookout! Records. Since Dorian was not present, there was nobody to chime in with the tambourine or cowbell, so Teddy mentioned that if anyone would like to play along, they could pick up one of the percussion instruments and join the band on stage. Right away, there were three girls up on stage with tambourines and cowbells dancing around Teddy.
After noticing that the crowd was screaming out all sorts of requests, Teddy announced, "we'll be changing up the set list so we can get to all of your requests tonight."
They continued their set with "Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?," "The Great Communicator," "Hearts Of Oak," "Under The Hedge" (my personal favorite), "I'm A Ghost," "The High Party," "Bridges, Squares," "Timorous Me," and knowing that Teddy's alma madder was Notre Dame, he dedicated "The Crane Takes Flight" to all the South Bend kids in the venue. Finally, Teddy and The Pharmacists closed out their hour and a half performance with "Biomusicology."
Once again Teddy, you've outdone yourself. No matter how sick I was that evening, I could not help but sing and dance around to your music. You always come in and blow me right out of the water with your astonishing sound.
Source: Katie Ramsey