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Baptismal By Rock

The Soundtrack of Our Lives
Chicago, IL
Nov. 13, 2002
The soundtrack to mayhem.

Review and Photos by Tony Bonyata

Move over Meatloaf, there's a new big man in town. And this Grizzly Adams-in-drag frontman not only brought along the most energetic, scrappy rock musicians from his Swedish homeland, but with a sound that's as refreshingly new as it is wonderfully dated, vocalist Ebbot Lundberg and his scruffy cohorts The Soundtrack Of Our Lives proved to a packed house at Metro last Wednesday evening that rock 'n' roll never really died. It was just waiting for a new prophet.
S.O.O.L. Lundberg, with thick shaggy brown hair, full beard, fuller belly and cloaked in a roomy black kaftan, proved to be just that prophet as he led his followers to a veritable rock 'n' roll Zion. With a powerful voice that echoed some of rock's greatest pipes, the large frontman treated his audience as if he were one of them - drinking beer from their cups, walking into the crowd and singing directly into individual faces. Yet as he towered at the cusp of the stage with arms widely outstretched, as if accepting his minions under his wings, he left them feeling as if they were a part of something much larger and more transcendental than simply another rock concert.
S.O.O.L. And if Lundberg's larger-than-life, fallen-rock-deity presence wasn't enough, the rest of the band was hot enough to cure ceramics. And this certainly was the bedrock that the singer fed from. Guitarists Mattias Barjed, clad in a Union Jack coat, and Ian Person tore up the guitar god scriptures, lit them ablaze and proceeded to chisel out new six-string commandments on stage. From dueling buzzsaw guitars to indulgent '70s arena rock leads, these two drawn and gangly axemen flounced to their knees with guitars high above their heads, sprinted, duck-walked, pogoed and otherwise scurried around like a couple of high-strung street urchins in search of a morsel of food. Indeed they were hammy, but their histrionics were not only forgiven, but lovingly embraced if not by sheer, blinding musicianship alone.
T.S.O.O.L. ran through a set that leaned heavy on songs from their latest and greatest album Behind The Music. While they started off with the somewhat odd choice of "Broken Imaginary Time," an introspective pop dirge complete with a creepy Carnival of Souls church organ, it didn't take long for the band to blowtorch the powderkeg with pumped-up versions of "Independent Luxury," "Infra Riot," the chew-stick pop of "Still Aging" and "Sister Surround," complete with chokehold guitars and the '70s concert piece de resistance of Fredrik Sandsten's self-indulgent drum solo. In fact, the only time they lifted their foot from the gas was on the tender ballad "Tonight," performed solely by Lundberg cooing over the beautiful storybook piano from keyboardist Martin Hederos. For longtime disciples, the band then filled out the last third of the show with a handful of charismatic rockers from their first two albums Welcome to The Infant Freebase and Extended Revelation.
Despite the fact that "Nevermore," one of the strongest tracks from Behind The Music, fell a little flat, it was conveniently overlooked by the inclusion of a gut-wrenching take of "The Flood," as well as in the middle of the punchy "21st Century Rip Off," where Lundberg proceeded to part the audience as if flesh were water and commanded the entire crowd to be seated on the floor around him; all while the band was still firing away. As Lundberg stood in the middle of his seated congregation he once again stretched his arms out wide as if healing the masses. And for many that night, The Soundtrack Of Our Lives had indeed healed them, not with a baptismal by fire or holy water, but rather near perfect rock music.

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