Though he’s a touring machine, Bonnaroo was my first Ted Leo show in almost two years. I don’t think I’d caught a full show of his since Lollapalooza 2007 (and Bonnaroo didn’t break that streak, unfortunately). But seeing Ted play for 20 minutes or so was enough to brighten my day. He’s a great performer who — while having been around the block a few times — seems to be perpetually a young pup. Seriously, the guy’s been playing music forever but still looks like he’s 28.
Even if Living with the Living shook my faith in Ted a little bit, I can always count on his live shows to restore my faith. Part of it is that it’s hard not to have faith in a guy with such an amazing back catalogue, but mostly it’s just that he’s a very engaging and passionate performer. I would say that if you wished for all the spirit that young punk bands like the Bronx and Against Me! have to be melded with the likeability of John Vanderslice, the result would be Ted Leo. He’s a guy that can rip through some crazy riffs, bleed from his forehead and still you’d believe he could have a nice conversation with your grandmother. Such is the duality of Ted Leo.
The only other thing I can think to add is one smile-worthy tidbit from the show. Someone threw an inflatable ball on stage and — in true hooligan spirit — Ted headed it back to them.
More photos after the break.