live The Wannadies The Astoria, London

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The Independent Culture
A journalist recently asked Roxette's Per Gessle what he thought of the Wannadies. "I love them," he enthused. "That's funny," said the callous journo. "They hate you. They say they formed to counter-act the image people have of Swedish music because of Roxette."

"Ah," whispered Gessle, deflated. "I do not think I like the Wannadies so very much."

Even the wounded Gessle would find it hard to suppress his love for the Wannadies as they skip through their first number, "I Love You a Lot Even Though You Are an Arse". Like all Wannadies' songs, it is bouncy as a bouncy thing, but with enough guitar weight not to be Roxette or The Lightning Seeds, their British equivalent. Per, the singer (do they only have one name in Sweden?), beams throughout. As well as drummer Gunner, guitarist Freddy, and bassist Stefan, the band includes Per's girlfriend, Cristina, on backing vocals and keyboard. Lest you mistake her for Linda McCartney, she also plays a curious Yamaha-come- recorder instrument and is the band sex symbol.

"Cherry Man" is a hook-laden cheerfest, even though it is about a paedophile. It was recently voted the second-best song ever written by a Swedish band. "You and Me Song" is their bona fide British hit, a deliriously tuneful paean to kissing and making up. If anything, they can be a little too tuneful, veering occasionally into Bacharach schmaltz territory. But joie de vivre and lateral use of English saves them.

They play a new song entitled "Friend" ("I want you to know how much you mean to me/ I want you to know I could break you nose"). Scoffing gravadlax in a West End pub/ Swedish restaurant, they amuse themselves by doing impressions of their own voices. "Cood you pass the zalt, please?", they yodel, in comedy Swedish accents. These are truly post-modern Swedes.

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