TODD TERJE & THE OLSENS
Metro, December 7
Was this timeless? Out of time? Out of its cotton-picking-mind?
In a room filled with more audience paeans to the days of Fraser/Lillee/Bogart jeans than a Tooheys commercial – you sir, I don’t know what you were thinking, but that moustache is an outrageous calumny against normal facial hair, even if accompanied by clothes more flammable than a box of Redheads.
On a stage populated by what could well have been the film crew of a straight-to-video porn film made before there even was video - including a man playing not just bass, guitar, some keyboards and saxophone but that quintessential porn-and-prog instrument, the flute.
There I found a kind of life-flashing-by-your-eyes moment from a 1970s I didn’t remember having. I mean, there was a Vangelis cover. No, really, a Vangelis cover. Bring me a cube of Kraft and some cabanossi on a toothpick my good man.
Todd Terje and his namesake band the Olsens (the Norwegian’s real name is Terje Olsen) gave a packed, heaving, rippling-with-pleasure room pretty much every kind of 1970s dance music.
We had funk and soul, disco and barrio, German rhythms (more from the kommische astral plane than Kraftwerkian rigidity), Japanese flights of fancy (via Yellow Magic Orchestra) and New York grooves.
Then Terje filtered them all through a ‘90s sound system to beef them up, his keyboards and laptop the engine, the percussionist and drummer as the outriders, and that multi-instrumentalist chap both as colour to the movement and decoration to the good time cake.
Whip ‘em together and voila we had something ultimately 2017 while simultaneously 1977 - and a mythical time when all these things existed under one roof/in the hands of one DJ.
Look away from the cleverness of the construction and the audacity of some of the appropriations and this may have been in many ways as ephemeral as a sheer body shirt. Straight out fun often is after all.
But it was twice as much fun as a key party – well, for everyone except the dour couple stood behind me the whole night with arms closed, eyes hooded and faces grim.
Maybe they had misunderstood the “swinging time” promised and wondered why no one was taking up their offer of bean bags and amyl.
Everywhere else though arms were being flung in the air like a world championship salad tossing contest, bodies were in motion with little to no regard for whether some old bloke was in elbow-range, and smiles went from grinning to beaming to dreamy to fixed.
Sure, Terje may look like a kind of weedy Bjorn Borg-meets-Benny Andersson, but he entertains like a well mannered John McEnroe-meets-Dirk Diggler. Party time. Excellent.
Todd Terje & The Olsens play at Meredith Festival this weekend and The Forum in Melbourne on Monday.