Ted Leo & The Pharmacists @ Borderline, Soho, London
20th April 2008
Quick apology for the lack of photos! I’ll put them up as soon as I can!
Upon arriving at Borderline this evening I felt a huge sense of relief that the doors were even open! What made me so nervous? Well quite simply old age must be taking its toll on poor old Ted Leo as he has cancelled his 2 previous scheduled London shows without citing any explanations to my knowledge. Enough for any fan to pack up bags and detract from his band of indie rockers. Not me however as third time turned out to be lucky, time to see if the patience paid off.
A packed lineup was kicked off by Wakefield trio The Research. Poppy vocal melodies rang over chiming guitars as they blatantly ripped riffs from hometown fav’s The Cribs. Pretty? Maybe… Inspiring? Not in the least… Good? Elevator Music…
I can’t imagine what the next band were using at the time they decided to call their band Large Mound, but it must have been pretty trippy! Still, they have thankfully come down from those highs and produced a set of fuzz riff fuelled alt rock in the same vein as Dino Jr. and Sebadoh with a pretty high RPM (Riffs Per Minute, in case you were wondering.) They were pretty good, highlights were punchy and catchy at the time. Looking back though… I only have a vague recollection of them, they clearly made no impression.
Unmemorable is one word I cannot use to describe Ted Leo, even if me and Mr Flowers spent 20 minutes arguing if the balding dude setting up on stage was actually Ted himself. I was wrong, slightly to my dismay as the “guitar tech” turned round, guitar loaded ready to rock with his Pharmacists in tow. They were running slightly late and this transformed what could have been a pedestrian run through of hits, into a punked up, adrenaline fueled romp through indie rock at its stripped down finest.
Each track was played at breakneck speed as Ted’s strained falsetto did its best to actually get the lyrics sung in time, such was the tempo of these songs. Guitars were great as expected from a well seasoned performer, but his lack of crowd interaction was somewhat of a letdown. Set highlights included the superb pop classic Me and Mia, melodic strummer turned Thin Lizzy strutter Counting Down the Hours and the punk-folk musings of Bottle of Buckie.
We might have waited a loooong time for this gig, but it was sure worth the wait!