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Ted Leo’s Life With Rush: Closer to the Heart

The punk-rock lifer reps for the ultimate prog-rock band

Scene Five: Spring 2004
This was the Pharmacists’ first really bouncing-off-the-walls great show in Vancouver, B.C. We were playing with new friends Juice and Misty and their band the Yoko Casionos, and it just seemed the whole place, which meant our whole life, was buzzing and brimming with energy and possibility. By this time, TL/Rx was a three-piece — a “power trio,” if you will. It was myself, Dave Lerner, and Chris Wilson; all people who were not unhappy to goof around on Rush songs in practice. And so, how could we not pay this tribute to the people in the other bands who were so excited and treated us so kindly, to the crowd who was going crazy beyond all our wildest hopes, to the country that was kind of like our country but was not our country, but who had been so welcoming to us on this trip despite the fact that many people from other countries were really hating on anyone from the country that is our country (and not for no reason), and to the band that had just become a 25-year constant presence in my life? As we closed the set on the end of “Timorous Me,” that big open E that rings until it’s a single feedback tone, going on forever, or maybe getting cut short, or maybe just petering out, I ripped into my rough (really rough) approximation of the ridiculous bit of shredding Alex Lifeson signals the change with, and we, collectively, spontaneously, ripped into the full ending of “Spirit of Radio.” Pretty presumptuous in retrospect, to do this for a Canadian crowd, but I think they knew where we were coming from, and in my personal history of our band, I will say with 99 percent conviction that I’m not sure I’ve ever felt as free, as weightless, or that there ever was a better time, may it never vanish.

Rush performing on set of video for Scene Six: The Twitter Years
I’m @tedleo. I like Rush. #ComeAtMeBro