The Soundtrack of Our Lives, Astoria, London

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The Independent Culture

The lead singer of The Soundtrack of Our Lives, Ebbot Lundberg, looks like a rock'n'roll monk sent from a Viking town to teach us a few lessons about life. He enters the Astoria holding a medieval horn-flute, which he doesn't play but uses like a magic wand as if he is about to cast spells on the crowd. Lundberg is flanked by the band's two guitarists - there's a jacket on view with an eagle hand-painted on the back and the obligatory tight pants, while scarfs and shirts are gradually unbuttoned to reveal hairy chests, and towards the end of the evening, tanned Swedish midriffs.

The lead singer of The Soundtrack of Our Lives, Ebbot Lundberg, looks like a rock'n'roll monk sent from a Viking town to teach us a few lessons about life. He enters the Astoria holding a medieval horn-flute, which he doesn't play but uses like a magic wand as if he is about to cast spells on the crowd. Lundberg is flanked by the band's two guitarists - there's a jacket on view with an eagle hand-painted on the back and the obligatory tight pants, while scarfs and shirts are gradually unbuttoned to reveal hairy chests, and towards the end of the evening, tanned Swedish midriffs.

The band's name could refer to the obvious sources of their inspiration - The Beatles and The Rolling Stones being the ubiquitous soundtrack to many lives. But if their sound knowingly and lovingly takes from the past, their distinctive style arises from a gleefully ironic social commentary.

TSOOL's appeal is perhaps more left-field than that of their touring companions last year - no less than the Oasis and the Rolling Stones themselves. Many of their effortlessly catchy choruses are laced with frank and funny observations ("Everybody's cheated on everyone/ Everybody's cheated for the 21st century"), while Lundberg's voice has the gruff pitch of Mark Arm, the lead singer with grunge band Mudhoney.

TSOOL's first two albums were released in the UK only after their third, Behind the Music, had launched the band out of their native Sweden and into a bigger rock arena in 2001. Their new album, Origin Vol 1, suffers somewhat by comparison to its predecessor, stopping short of matching its quality and receiving, thus far, a fraction of the critical attention.

This one-off London show starts hesitantly with the first two songs of Origin Vol 1, "Believe I've Found" and "Transcendental Suicide", which fail to capture the confident swagger of their album incarnations. Nonetheless, the new material gains an increasingly warm response from the London crowd, especially after they are treated to old hits such as "Instant Repeater '99" and the gorgeously spiralling psychedelic ballad "Broken Imaginary Time".

The elaborate staging of almost every rock move in the book - from Pete Townshend's windmill action to numerous incidences of guitars being played behind heads - almost comes unstuck when the lighting for the Astoria's regular club night breaks through the backdrop (what else but a tableau of the band members' heads grafted onto colonial photographs of natives?). The letters G-A-Y beam out, first to the amusement of the crowd, and then to the band. Lundberg responds entirely appropriately by singing Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" in one of their jams towards the end of the set. They conclude with "Nevermore", and Lundberg suggests that they'll never play a London show again. But he then concludes, almost paternally: "See you round: have patience."

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