One of the perks to show-going over the years is watching the new generation of 18 and up audiences roll in. Rather than standing around like a bunch of monuments, we get to watch a handful of newbies pop their concert cherries alongside worn-down hipsters and alcohol they can't be served yet. Monday night's Ted Leo audience saw more than a handful of such freshmen, and the energy of the innocent was in full force, Leo and his band feeding off it over their 90-minute, raging set.
Over the course of the show, I felt as if I was watching a band that'd earned a place beside Sunny Day Real Estate or the Promise Ring (dare I say good emo music?) circa-1995. Leo's voice holds the same exuberant quality it did at the beginning of his career, which is rare for someone comfortably residing with the 30-something set. He managed to fight off requests for Kelly Clarkson's “Since You've Been Gone,” a cover he released around the blogosphere about a year ago contained in a medley with the Yeah Yeah Yeah's “Maps”. Instead, he closed the set with Stiff Little Fingers' “Suspect Device,” and redeemed any potentially lost dignity with ease. The band also managed to squeeze in a cover of Daft Punk's “One More Time,” which for some reason, didn't seem to surprise me one bit.
Leo lost a bit of his flare coming into the encore, especially after ending on such a fantastic note during the original set, but at this point no one seemed to really care that much anyway. These were Ted Leo diehards ‚Äì he could've played whatever he damn well pleased for as long as he damn well pleased, and the crowd would've been pumping fists for the entire duration. This show restored my faith in Ted Leo's music, but more importantly, it restored my faith in a Nashville audience that has been dwindling so diligently over the past couple of years.