Live: Farewell. The Soundtrack of Our Lives, Heaven.

All good things must come to an end, and for but a few years short of these past twenty Gothenburg's The Soundtrack of Our Lives have been doing precisely that: ensuring good times continue to roll whilsy they soundtrack many a waking moment to many a reckless life. Tonight therefore represents the midst of the end, and indeed as far as the capital may be concerned, this is the one final hurrah from the ever absorbing Ebbot Lundberg et al. Apposite, therefore, that it should take place Under The Arches of Heaven.

Scanning about the Strand, the stretch is packed with the suited and booted as per. Beneath these grey pave stones, though, an event never to be repeated is about to play out. And what looks one of said brigade to have foregone the inherent tedium of an after-hours slaughtering upon the streets outside some grimly nondescript public house is up there, on stage. A lone figure, all support has been foregone, thus focalising every whit of attention on they who are, alas, poised to leave us. This elegant unknown delivers a profusely, and indeed beautifully complimentary pseudo-eulogy, his delicately noncommittal confessions of nobody knowing what is to come countered with heckles of "Reunion tour!" You can't help but feel there's most probably more than a mere modicum of substance to this insolent shriek. Nonetheless, our transitory compère then shuffles gracefully away from ashen spotlight, toppling over Lundberg's mic stand as he does so, before dedications begin to trickle in from all manner of great British fuckheads. Noel does Bono, whilst Mani and Tim Burgess pay their respects to the highs and hangovers via SMS. It's not exactly the most poignant of sendoffs, although it sums up both the band and the band's rather wide-ranging impact fairly neatly.

I've always felt that had Oasis hailed from somewhere a little more salubrious than Lancastrian suburb, and spontaneously combusted in unadulterated vim as though effervescent champagne supernovae nightly then they may have wound up sounding as enthralling as T.S.O.O.L. always have and forever will. Had they this much verve to them, they'd arguably still be about today although maybe that's not such a negative. Tonight's setlist, meanwhile, stirs from slur with the intestinal grumbles of Throw It To the Universe and, by the time of its close, Lundberg's already slurped down three flutes of the fizzy schtuff they're nursing – most likely mid-guffaw – just beyond the door.

They neglect to even touch upon the soundtrack to the uneventful mundanities of my school days, the rockin' roll of Origin Vol. 1 although that's alright, primarily because Lundberg precisely embodies the drunken uncle – ruddy of face and fanciful of appearance, adorned in some sort of military cassock – I'd always longed for but, you know, never had. Whether a relative or merely an inspiration for an evening, he's the sort of burly bloke who'd incontestably enhance any existence, as have many of their musics. Crowned with the miniature cymbals of his vigorously ravaged tambourine, he resembles some Biblical figure found after millennia whiled away wandering some uncharted, yet divinely prophesied wilderness. Then, as he seethes: "You're such a lightweight" on a gloriously savage Broken Imaginary, he assumes the impression of a grotty, perennially pissed Viking deity. Or perhaps an Anglo-Saxon Santa. Either way, his faintly monastic groans ensure this Soundtrack may remain just as, if not more, cultish than ever before.
Still sporting leathers straight outta '95 though, perhaps the most enigmatic chink in T.S.O.O.L.'s glinting chain mail of various successes is that although they may maintain this vehemently cult following, it has been cultivated almost exclusively via the medium of an exposed-genital, cocksure rawk strut. As such, it's something of a wonder they've lasted this long at all, what with the likes of the Stereophonics, Supergrass, and so on long since faded out into utter insignificance. That is to say that although a slight oddness is deeply ingrained in their essence, some distinctly listenable, and with that distinctly Britpop influences abound: squinting as though kept away from sunlight for decades, Lundberg goes equal parts Liam and Marvin Aday on Faster Than The Speed Of Light, a bacchanalian ballad hauled into hyperdrive at its every chorus. We'll Get By, meanwhile, has the man grumbling like Dylan doing With a Little Help from My Friends. He's a fascinatingly complex, and with it captivating individual; the point upon which every gaze converges and subsequently remains transfixed for nigh on two hours. He wades through us; surfs atop us; enthrals us. Refusing to be flustered by any setlist confusions or reconfigurations, he purely blusters on through. "We're supposed to stop here. But we're not", he righteously declares. No one stands in his way, and why would they?

"This one's about... Well, I'm not sure what it's about", he intones of a perfectly rambunctious Lost Prophets In Vain and indubitably there's a feeling of uncertainty throughout. And as triumphant a final turn as this may be on British soil, t'would be a monumental shame were they not to inspire individuals to come. However, a somewhat anticipated solemnity lingers beneath the barre chord onslaught and the bluesy rhythms that they power. It's a last high school dance in a co-ed institution kinda vibe, this gently dispiriting party in turn cut short rather ironically by the generic club night to come.

Although as many would wish for of a funeral – myself included – tonight is about celebration. It concerns revelry, as opposed to the folkloric misery intrinsic to Second Life Replay, a solitary Swedish flag wavering in the all-pervasive stillness. With it, that previously lacking poignancy is achieved. And then it's back to the almightily uproarious swing of things, with Sister Surround and the scallywag anthemia of The Passover. "Don't worry/ Stop hurry/ Get on with your life", Lundberg bristles on the latter and not only does this draw a quite stark line under T.S.O.O.L., but also sees us off with a quite pertinent life lesson. "We're gonna miss ya. See ya." And they're gone.

Only to return moments later, to end where it all began: with the first three from the cocky, rocky beginnings of '96 EP Homo Habilis Blues. There's time for another teaching too, as Lundberg avers: "We don't know why we're here. That's the meaning of life." Existentialism thus vocal, it's lyrical too as he soothes over Instant Repeater '99: "I'm ready to close my eyes/ I'm ready to blow my mind/ I'm ready to leave you all behind" as though he had foreboded the dawning of this moment all those innumerable moons ago. What will become of them once they've splintered off into mere men once again – or once they've been released and allowed to fly, to paraphrase Grand Canaria – is as uncertain as their collective future, although one thing they may surely take into this unknown is a lasting impression of the power of the band to the people. Fare thee well, The Soundtrack of Our Lives. It was one heck of a ride.