Ted Leo’s set on Saturday should be held up forever as a message to the most noteworthy figures in independent music: just because you’re “established” doesn’t mean you can relax.
Kicking off with the “Little Dawn,” Ted’s set seemed geared to win over new and old fans alike through both performance and song selection. He ripped through his classics (“Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?”), killed with his last album’s material (“Counting Down the Hours”), and even rocked us with his new work, including”Army Bound” and “Some Beginner’s Mind.”
But what put his set over the top was the final number, “The Ballad of the Sin Eater.” Ted whispered to the Pharmacists as he put down his guitar, and both of them smiled then launched into the predominantly bass and drum song.
Forsaking his Guitar God status, Ted grabbed the microphone and sang-yelled the tune. Then for the chorus, he lowered the mic into the crowd (right over my head) where it everyone nearby screamed the lyrics into it. He’s quite the showman.
Then the fun really started. Once he got the mic back, we saw our first hint of blood. I’m not sure if he hit it to his forehead (as I’ve been told he used to do), or if he popped a vein; whatever it was, the effect was immediate. Blood trickled down his face and overtop of his nose. It wasn’t scary so much as comforting. Ted Leo bleeds for his art, and it’s refreshing to know that someone still does.