Thursday, 20 September 2012

The Soundtrack of Our Lives - iTunes Festival at The Roundhouse with Noel Gallagher

Fredrik Sandsten & Ian Person of TSOOL
Noel Gallagher has always been extremely supportive of his favourite Swedish band over the years, right back to his days in Oasis, he would often devote valuable column space in his own and Oasis's interviews to praise the band. So, considering The Soundtrack of Our Lives will cease to be by the end of 2012, it was a nice gesture by Noel to invite the band to open for him and the High Flying Birds at their iTunes Festival show at London's Roundhouse. Noel was also to be seen watching the band from the side of the stage as they kicked off a short, eight song set to the cavernous Roundhouse. Of course, iTunes can only be applauded for putting on events like this and supporting live music. However, the problem with these corporate style shows, is that it can be difficult for die-hard fans to get tickets. And so it is tonight, as the band take the stage to be greeted by a strangely bemused, polite, yet pretty unresponsive crowd made up mainly of iTunes competition draw winners.

Mind you as always, singer Ebbot Lundberg seems to revel in the situation, he's never been one to take the easy option. He appears on stage alone with an acoustic guitar and strums away, it takes a while before I recognise the song is a cover of The Damned's twisted side-show oddity, "These Hands" from Machine Gun Etiquette. "These are the hands of a demented circus clown", sings Ebbot, "outside I'm happy but inside I'm really wearing a frown..." Is that a reference to the band splitting up? Maybe he's changed his mind, a pang of regret even? No, I don't think so. Since the band have announced the split, there seems to be a big weight lifted off their shoulders and the gigs have been some of the most joyous I have seen for many years. As guitarist Ian Person told me after their show, "now the pressure is off we can have some fun". The band then take their places on stage and proceed to give it their all, straight into the storming title track of their latest, and last album "Throw It To The Universe". Ebbot intones..."We are the ones who never die..."

Ebbot Lundberg
However, it seems they are facing a bit of an uphill struggle, not just in the face of the rather passive audience but against the acoustics too. It's a poor sound, and the more psychedelic passages seem to waft up and get lost in the huge dome of the Roundhouse. It seems this is occasionally causing timing issues, I'm not sure if it's anything to do with the fact that the shows were being recorded and filmed for a live Internet broadcast, maybe the sound mix is more geared to that? "Firmament Vacation" follows and then the excellent Ian Person song "Still Aging" from the "Behind The Music" album, a track that seems to have found it's way back into set-lists recently. The sound gradually clicks into place and the set builds nicely with the flamenco intro to new song "Where's The Rock?". Fan favourite "Confrontation Camp", a sort of Stooges style take on The Sweet's "Blockbuster", seems to perk up the audience a bit. One of the new album's highlights "Faster Than the Speed of Light" is somewhat interrupted by an extensive section of vocal gymnastics from Ebbot, and the momentum is lost a little bit.

Kalle & Ian of TSOOL
The slow build of "Second Life Replay" is a challenging choice of song to play to an audience mainly consisting of people who hadn't heard the band before. Sure, it's become a bit of a classic TSOOL song with the passing of time since the superb double album "Communion", with it's complex passages and Martin Hederos' beautiful harpsichord break, its not an immediate hit, but it's a stunningly powerful song. This is followed by probably their most well known number, the faultless "Sister Surround" and it all comes together, the familiar driving rhythm laid down by drummer Fredrik Sandsten and bassist Kalle Gustafsson Jerneholm is followed by the call and response duelling guitars of Mattias Bärjed and Ian Person and it gets heads nodding finally. One fan waves a lone Swedish flag in front of Ebbot but I'd like to think they did pull in a few more converts after all, even if it might be too late.

The visually stunning Roundhouse
All photographs Copyright Steve Worrall Retro Man Blog 2012

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