December 8, 2009


Disco Vietnam approves of pharmacists, street or otherwise.  

If it ain’t raw it’s worthless. Ted Leo’s forthcoming album and first for Matador, The Brutalist Bricks, takes its title from the post-World War II architectural style known as brutalism, which incorporated raw concrete to construct buildings with “striking repetitive angular geometries.” If Leo and his Rx/Pharmacists sold-out performance at the Bowery Ballroom Sunday was any indication this title should prove particularly apt; it would seem Leo has finally captured the pure punk rock aesthetic he’s seemed desperate to rediscover after four consecutive albums of energized, yet deceptively sophisticated power pop that only hinted at the punk lurking beneath.

Sporting a rather ill-advised mohawk and red devil-horned Gibson, Leo tore through a solo career spanning 24 song set, which featured seven new songs, highlighted by the soulful “One Polaroid a Day” and “Last Days.” The new tunes are short on dynamics, more immediate, and Leo gave old standards like “Me and Mia” and “I’m a Ghost” the same treatment where appropriate, obscuring their pop elements with speed and distortion to let their immediacy shine through. A voracious live performer, I’ve seen Leo over a dozen times and this was probably the closest he’s come to recreating the experience of an Old First Church punk show.–Disco Vietnam

Setlist Below the Jump

MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists-“Even Heroes Have to Die”

MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists-“Timorous Me”
MP3: Ted Leo & The Pharmacists-“Lose My Fuse”

Heart Problems / Me and Mia / The One Who Got us Out / The Mighty Sparrow* / Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone / Even Heroes Have to Die* / The Stick* / Colleen / I’m A Ghost / Army Bound / One Polaroid a Day* / The High Party / Parallel or Together / Counting Down the Hours / Where Was My Brain* / Bottle of Bucky / Under the Hedge / Bottled and Corked* / The Crane Takes Flight / Last Days* / Archangel (Samhain cover) / Timorous Me / Walking to Do / Biomusicology

*new songs

One Polaroid a Day =
Photo by Surekha Ratnatunga

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