With a Palestinian flag on one amp and his heart on both sleeves Ted Leo took center stage at Union Transfer on Friday to remind us that some things never change, and sometimes that’s a good thing.

The veteran indie rocker has been steeped in politically-oriented punk rock his entire career, and for this tour, he and his longtime band the Pharmacists played their Iraq War-era album, 2004’s Shake the Sheets, in its entirety for its 20th anniversary. They followed it up with another hour of not-so-old favorites from the back catalog. The show, like the record, kicked off with “Me and Mia.” It’s forever a banger. And for, oh, 20 years I thought he was saying “Do you believe in something beautiful that can’t ever be?” But I just looked it up and it’s not so cynical: “Do you believe in something beautiful? Then get up and be it.”

Ted Leo | photo by Megan Matuzak for WXPN

The band sounded sharp as ever, tearing through the tracks that used to run down my iPod battery. These were, to Ted Leo fans, the hits: “Where Have All the Rude Boys Gone,” “Bottled in Cork,” “Timorous Me,” etc. The man writes songs built on tempo shifts and mood swings, and falsetto bits that redden the face and summon the cables of his neck to the surface. And damn if he doesn’t still hit the notes.

But the earth is a flat circle, and the same conditions that inspired Shake the Sheets 20 years ago (have you heard the demos?) are still haunting us today, something Ted called out more than once between songs on Friday night. Corporate greed, disgusting wars and injustice for underrepresented peoples — these are no less part of the zeitgeist now than when he wrote the record — and the ones before it, and the ones after it. Innumerable evergreens for a songwriter with punk bona fides and progressive politics like Ted Leo, who is forever on the lookout for that arc toward justice.

In concert when the volume’s up and the drums are pounding, it’s easy to forget that Shake the Sheets is more power pop than straight-up punk. This is not a problem. The record is jangly, catchy, rough around the edges, earnest and pretty in a rustic kind of way, with more than a few fists-up shout-along choruses.

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists | photo by Megan Matuzak for WXPN

Live, the Pharmacists — who count among their members Philly fixture Chris Wilson of Titus Andronicus and Hammered Hulls on drums, and Ralph Darden of belated Philly bands Franklin and Jai Alai Savant on guitar — proved again again their agility and gamesmanship, stepping up for shredding freakouts and backing vocals, most entertainingly on “Walking to Do.” They capped off the evening with a single-song encore, “Under the Hedge,” from 2001’s Tyranny of Distance.

Dead Best | photo by Megan Matuzak for WXPN

Philly’s own Dead Best — a super-sized supergroup featuring Atom Goren (of Atom and his Package, Fracture and Armalite), Brian Sokel (of AM/FM and Franklin), and two drum sets — opened the show. You’re damn right I bought their new record.

DC bubblegum grunge act Ekko Astral, currently on tour with Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, was upbeat and preachy and messy and fun. They released their debut record in April, and the buzz is good. Ted invited them up to dance and sing and pound floor toms for a while.