Ted Leo and the Pharmacists played Brighton Music Hall – 6/15

Leo and his Pharmacists returned to Brighton earlier this month for the first evening of a two-night residency, performing 2003’s Hearts of Oak in full for its 15th anniversary. 

Following last year’s post-hiatus reactivation of the Pharmacists and a tour in support of new LP The Hanged Man, this spring found Leo looking to the past and celebrating a fan-favorite. Each stop of the tour promised two nights per city, one focused on the Hearts anniversary and the other spanning the twenty-year Pharmacists back catalog.

Leo was admittedly under the weather on night one in Boston, resulting in a shorter evening than planned, but the Hearts of Oak set was a treat regardless. The five-piece Pharmacists – now consisting of veterans Chris Wilson, James Canty and Marty Key alongside newcomers Adrienne Berry and Ralph Darden – are the most robust lineup Leo’s ever toured with, and accordingly filled out the songs with texture and color. Highlights like “Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone?” have remained setlist staples for Leo over the years, but hearing some of the LP’s rarely-aired deep cuts – like the Boston-referencing “Bridges, Squares” and set-closing polemic “Ballad of the Sin Eater” – was the real thrill of the night.

Hearts of Oak is a longtime personal favorite, and much like the Tyranny of Distance anniversary set I caught back in 2011, this was a heartening opportunity to see the band revisit some formative music for me and bring it all roaring back to life. Now if we can just get a Shake the Sheets tour together for next year…

See photos from the whole night – including openers Lemuria – below.