Ted Leo and the Ballad of the Naked Man

6 12 2007

Ted Leo had just strode into the front of the stage at Brooklyn’s Williamsburg Music Hall, gliding the pick along the final chord in ‘The Angels’ Share,’ when an errant t-shirt landed next to him. The sound buzzed out as the guitar strings came to rest, and he picked it up.

It was a bluish-white, rendered a large cloth by being ripped off its original inhabitant. Leo picked it up, examined it, and asked where it came from.

‘Here!’ returned a voice.

Leo looked around, scanning the faces immediately in front of him. His eyes finally came to rest on a man — one who a generous estimate would place around 19 — with a chinstrap beard, brown hair and no shirt on. He had, in a moment of great rock and roll fervor, thrown his shirt toward the Pharmacists, Leo’s band.

They exchanged quick dialogue, Leo with quips, the shirtless gentleman with shouts and hollars. Turns out this man was from Jersey, a place called Devereaux, I believe. Leo asked whether or not this man wanted his shirt back, noting that it was cold outside (it had snowed a dusting that night), and that it would be good to have a ‘wrap.’ The man told him he could keep it, and Leo started to wear it mockingly as a pashmina, taking it off after realizing it made a sweaty, gross pashmina. He lobbed it to the back of the stage.

The conversation having ended, Leo walked back up to the microphone, only to find that the shirtless man had made his way onto the stage. Being the professional that he is, Leo handed him a tambourine. The song they were about to play, “Bottle of Buckie,” features a line about “The Neds, with their knuckles and their Burberry scarves / They said ‘How’d ye Jersey boys ever make it this far?’ so Leo deemed it fit to include this gentleman, noting that “this song is, appropriately, about alcohol.”

Sidenote about Ted Leo: This is a man who, when a concert in Baltimore (Washington, maybe?) was called off mid-set because of a power outage, took his guitar to the sidewalk and performed outside.

And now (see if you can Youtube this today — search for Ted Leo, naked guy, williamsburg…something like that), things got weird. Very, very weird.

The guitars came in, conveying the Irish theme of the song. Then he started singing and the Jersey man got into it, shedding his shirt and attempting, unsuccessfully, to keep time with the tambourine.

Nine years down the road and I remember it still
Standing on the corner back in Govanhill
Nine days out from home, feeling no pain
That northern city sun breaking through the rain
That warmthless sun barely shining on
Me and you and a bottle of Buckie

The shirtless man is now playing the tambourine in the same way that a man would play a shank. He is thrusting his hand forward, extending his arm completely, while stepping. His balance is suspect. So is his haircut.

Nine years come and gone since I left you at home
And this restless soul of mine had me starting to roam

He is beginning to remove his pants.
But the first time I stood by the banks of the Clyde
I was so glad to have you standing back by my side
I was so proud of what we were doing
Me and you and a bottle of Buckie

He has removed his pants.

In addition to nearly throwing the tambo at the audience with the violence of his thrusts — which occur in a rhythm that can only be described as horrible — he has begun to dance around the stage, trying to share the mic on a few occasions, ala Springsteen. He does not know the words and compensates with a few grunts. While dancing, he collides lightly occasionally with a few members of the band and sprints between Leo and the microphone as the band’s eponymous leader is walking back to it.

Well, I knew by the dew in your starry eyes, It was the day we both had studied for for all of our lives

He actually knocks Leo away from the mic for a line. Well, a grunt. He starts throwing his pants, his shirt, his shoes at the audience.

Whether bold missionaries, or a Children’s Crusade
No fear, pioneers, we were on our way
And there never were nothin’ that could get in our way

He is now dancing in front of Leo, who is shredding. When I say dancing, I mean bouncing up and down with a gut that looks like a bag of pasty, flesh-colored custard strapped to a human torso. He then falls to his knees and licks Ted Leo’s guitar.

A guitar solo ensues. Leo backs to the rear of the stage, near the drumset. Naked man begins to punch himself in the side of the face repeatedly in the front of the stage. He then moves over to the mic while Leo’s still in the back, turned away from the crowd.

Then the Neds, with their knuckles and their Burberry scarves…

He rips the mic from the stand and starts jamming it into his forehead. The sound it created over the PA was the sound of someone hitting himself squarely in the forehead with a microphone.

This is where naked man was persuaded off the stage by a few men larger than he.

As he’s carried up the steps, the band returns to playing, and Naked Man stripped off his grey boxer-briefs, staggering up the final few steps and into the hallways of our memory completely nude.




6 responses

6 12 2007

Ted Leo took an acoustic guitar out to Howard St in Baltimore during summer blackouts. He also sang a few songs a capella. Notably: “since u been gone”

7 12 2007

Oh come on! My hair isnt that bad!

7 12 2007

A complete audio recording of this concert has been posted at my site.

8 12 2007

If James is actually Naked Guy, fucking awesome. Thanks for showing up on the blog.

9 12 2007

yeah that was me, and this was the funniest, meanest, recap of what happened.

9 12 2007

Haha, buddy, if it were me on stage, it would have been 100% uglier. Also, I’m just jealous that when you made it rain, none of the drizzle made its way to me.

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