Published Aug 01, 2004With their next album not due out until October, Ted Leo & the Pharmacists' performance proved an occasion to reveal some muscular new material. Unveiling close to half a dozen songs, Leo showed that he's capable of widening his already extensive songwriting to even greater expanses. New songs unfurled with superbly charged and sophisticated delivery, blending Leo's punk, pop, and reggae influences into a remarkable whole. Backed by a pared-down version of the Pharmacists, featuring only bassist Dave Lerner and drummer Chris Wilson, Leo unleashed a vigorous performance, twisting and lunging with unbounded force. Along with new material, the band also played a broad selection of songs from Hearts of Oak and The Tyranny of Distance. Two songs into the evening, Leo set the frenetic pace that followed for most of the set, launching into an invigorating version of "Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone?" Midway through the night, however, Lerner's amp head died. Undeterred, Leo performed a handful of solo songs, including a captivating rendering of "Dirty Old Town." After remedying the technical problems, the full band resumed its course and performed with unmatched melodic ferocity, delivering stirring versions of "I'm a Ghost" and "Parallel or Together." At the end of his set, Leo played a restless solo cover of "Dancing in the Dark" that drew boisterous applause and concluded an exceptional night of music.