Live Review: Ted Leo in Cleveland by Kiesha Jenkins

At this point I?m pretty sure everyone knows exactly how much I love Ted Leo. Rob and I have travelled far and wide to see him and the Pharmacists, from Cleveland, to Akron, to Coney Island, N.Y., to New York City. We even extended our New York/New Jersey vacation by a day to watch him play three songs.

So I?m sure it comes as no surprise that Rob and I once again packed our bags and drove to Cleveland to watch a solo show at the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern last Thursday.

We pulled double duty at Beachland again by watching The Raveonettes on Wednesday evening in the Ballroom, and then spending the evening in Cleveland. On Thursday, we spent the day traipsing about the city, visiting the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, and watching ?American Splendor? at the Cedar-Lee Theatre.

Finally, around 8 p.m., we headed for the Tavern.

We had to sit in the car in the parking lot for a good twenty minutes, because the doors didn?t open until 8:30. Luckily, there was a travelling bookmobile in front of the venue, and Rob and I explored it until the incense starting to make my head spin. I did, however, manage to snag a copy of ?My New Filing Technique is Unstoppable? for $3.

We walked into the Tavern with my ?Hearts of Oak? vinyl in Rob?s bookbag and quickly found Ed (of Cobra Verde fame), who works at the Beachland. We settled into barstools and, as I turned my head, realized Ted Leo was sitting not five stools down, flipping through a copy of the Cleveland ?Scene.?

We talked with Ed for a while, and the other Beachland employees stationed behind the bar. Finally I rooted through the bookbag and located the vinyl, which I timidly carried over to Ted.

I asked if he would sign my album, to which he agreed. I handed over my Sharpie.

He then looked up at me and said, ?I notice you?re wearing a red flower in your hair.?

Here?s a little backstory. One of Ted?s songs contains the lyrics ?If you want to meet me/wear a red flower in your hair……in black clothing I?ll be there.? So, for the past four shows, I?ve worn a little red flower in my hair, hoping he would notice it. And he finally did.

I was beaming like an idiot while he scribbled on my record. I wished him a happy late birthday, and informed him that we share a birthday (September 11th).

We talked about that particular birthday, as well as the show he and the Pharmacists played in NYC during the blackout.

I let him get back to the newspaper and headed back to my seat, where I finally dared to look at my record cover.

?Thanks Kiesha!! blah blah blah…in black clothing I?ll be there…
(And happy b-day!)?

Well, you can?t get much better than that.

And the show! It was incredible. Despite the fact that four or five people in the audience didn?t know it was a solo show (and voiced their dissapointment), it was incredible. It was fun, and loud, and intimate. Ted chatted up the crowd between almost every song, and had the place laughing along with him.

He played new songs, and old songs, and songs from albums I don?t have. He did two covers (one was ?Dancing in the Dark?, which he played during the aforementioned blackout), and a song from his old Washington D.C. band Chisel. He even broke out tunes from his forthcoming solo EP, including a ditty called ?Loyal to my Sorrowful Country,? which has indie hit written all over it. It was incredible. He even did two encores, and he wasn?t
even the headliner.

Rob and I decided to split after Ted?s set, opting to drive home at midnight rather than 2 a.m. On the way back, we hit a monsoon known as Hurrican Isabel, and ended up not making it back to German Village until 4 a.m.

It was totally worth it though. And my only hope is that someday Ted Leo (with or without Pharmacists) will find his way to Columbus to entertain us all.

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