Home / Music / Concert Reviews / Ted Leo and the Pharmacists w/ Tweak Bird and Call Me Lightning @ Turner Hall Ballroom

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists w/ Tweak Bird and Call Me Lightning @ Turner Hall Ballroom

July 27, 2011

Jul. 28, 2011
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With his band the Pharmacists, Ted Leo has grown into a dynamic and charismatic frontman, retaining the vigor and energy of his punk days while bringing in more overtly poppy hooks. The result is a uniquely catchy, expressive kind of rock 'n' roll, which Leo uses to speak his mind on pressing issues, both political and otherwise.

Milwaukee certainly has been waiting a long time to see Leo perform again—seven years, roughly—but all that was forgotten once the band stormed on stage. Leo isn't getting any younger. He was sporting a knee brace (hidden under his pants, he described the flack he got on Twitter for wearing shorts) but just about every song found plenty of youthful exuberance and emotion.

The set drew deeply from the band's decade-long tenure, including songs from 2001's Tyranny of Distance and last year's Brutalist Bricks. Songs like "Where Was My Brain?," "Even Heroes Have to Die" "Come to Me" and "Squeaky Finger" kept the energy flowing steadily throughout the night.

Before performing of "Worst Enemy," Leo quoted Robert Plant, saying "Let me take the mood down but lift it up." He held the crowd's attention during even the slowest numbers.  The irresistibly catchy "Bottled and Corked" gave way to a sea of dancing and nodding heads.

"This crowd is polite," Leo joked partway through their set.

During the encore Ted Leo came out first by himself to play "Timorous Me," before being joined halfway by the rest of the band. The performance was a thrilling start to WMSE's multi-venue Radio Summer Camp festival.

A good portion of the crowd came early to see local favorites Call Me Lightning, who gave a typically powerful performance. They were followed by the Illinois guitar-drum duo Tweak Bird, made up of brothers Caleb and Ashton Bird, who play a raw, jazzy kind of metal. The brother team fired away impressively through their final song, which was full of grinding buildups and jammed-out climaxes, until one of the control boxes for their amps fell on the ground with a punctual thud. Unfortunately, it ended their performance, but they had impressed the audience with their short but moving set.


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