Ted Leo + Pharmacists – Luminaire, London

By Tom Aylott

Last time I was in the Luminaire, it was half empty and seemed a bit like a venue stuck in a part of London that didn’t really appreciate it’s potential – This evening seemingly started off in the same fashion, and was to the peril of openers Deer Park as the first half of their set was much stronger than the one that most of the swelling audience watched.

The indie-rock quartet’s utilisation of lap steel guitar is welcoming and the songs are largely well constructed and clever, but the band fall down at establishing a sound – most notable towards the end of the set where guitarist/vocalist Mark switches to acoustic guitar and the band’s strengths seem to fall away with the tempo. Most definitely at their best when making a bit more racket. 3/5

Zounds are in the rare category of ‘Punk survivors’ – playing three chord punk the ‘way it was intended’. They know the world’s changed around them, and that songs about the Cold War sound a bit dated in 2010, but still having fun when you’re getting on a bit is nothing to be ashamed of. Personally – I don’t really subscribe much to the anarchist notion and three chord punk at it’s most basic lost it’s vigor before I’d left college – so Zounds fall short of coming off as anything but a bit of a throwback, but that’s not to say it’s not a laugh and the banter is top notch. 3/5

Much like the Luminaire, the last time I saw Ted Leo was in a half empty and now defunct Brighton Barfly – fortunately tonight is a different story, and an eager crowd awaits long before the band take the stage.

I’ve never really understood why Ted Leo + Pharmacists haven’t broken Britain (if you’ll excuse the phraseology) more than they have so far, as they’re one of the most consistant, talented and interesting punk bands around.

It’s a rare thing to watch a band for over an hour and still be entertained, but they’re nothing short of brilliant thoughout, and the chemistry (fnar) between the band members and enthusiasm for what they’re doing is infinitely more genuine than many of the poser punk bands on both sides of the pond.

For a band with an extensive back catalogue, it can be hard picking songs for a crowd in a different country – but the setlist tonight was nigh on perfect and further cemented my confusion about why the band isn’t allowed to punch anywhere near their weight over here in the UK. 5/5