Ted Leo and the Pharmacists 'Rawk' Mod Club
December 5, 2004
There's something not right about Ted Leo and his band playing at the Mod
Club. Given that he's one of the few artists that can bring together
hipsters and pub crawling drunks who just want to "rawk," the slightly
upscale Mod Club proved to be a bit too large for the Leo fanbase.
At about two-thirds filled, the venue and its high-tech lighting sterilized
the grit right out of some of Leo's tunes. At times (especially during The
Junction's set) the schizophrenic beams of light seemed to upstage the band
on stage, proving to be more of a distraction than a theatric device.
Luckily, Leo's charisma made the questionable lighting and a sound mix that
rendered most of his lyrics inaudible a bit bearable. Okay, a LOT bearable.
The veteran punk-rocker, with his rich, radio-DJ-ready speaking voice, is
the George Clooney of power-punk-rock--an amiable boy next door who likes to
chat with his audience.
And through the course of the 70-minute set, he crammed in tunes from his
latest disc, Shake the Sheets, as well as some of the crowd favourites from
his other records with his Pharmacists band. He gave up the brightly
rollicking "Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone?" early in the night and the
dynamic rockers "The High Party" and "I'm a Ghost" ended up being one of the
more upbeat moments of the set. Sheets material, like the glorious first
single "Me and Mia," also received a welcome response from the all-ages
Yet it was unfortunate that Leo's excellent lyrics were buried beneath the
bass-heavy sound configuration. The political-minded Leo made mention of the
"ill Fall," in which a certain bumbling president was re-elected, but that
isn't nearly as vivid as a line like "It's times like these when a neck
looks for a knife."
Maybe next time he's around, Leo--though still captivating and instantly
likable--will shake us up just a bit more.
Writer: Brian Wong