Oslo, the new(ish) restau­rant, bar and music venue is one of the lat­est new des­ti­na­tions after the avalanche of clo­sures of grimy, char­ac­ter­ful music venues in north, west and cen­tral Lon­don over the past few years. (Actu­al­ly, make that coun­try­wide, with Liv­er­pool cur­rent­ly under­go­ing self­same prob­lems). So it’s been heart­en­ing to see a new wave of well-thought out, spruced up venues open­ing up, pre­dictably over east Lon­don way, where the prices are … for now any­way, lower.

Oslo is easy to find, it’s actu­al­ly an old rail­way sta­tion and is tacked on to Hack­ney Cen­tral sta­tion itself – in fact it’s a won­der you can’t feel the vibra­tions of trains rat­tling along while you’re in the venue. It’s a huge, pala­tial barn of a place but as soon as you set foot inside you feel the warm and wel­com­ing atmos­phere. The decor is mod­ern Scan­di­na­vian, or so the mar­ket­ing speak goes … in fact it’s a pleas­ing mix of indus­tri­al rus­tic chic, rather ‘if All Saints did a restau­rant’ – and it cer­tain­ly gives the impres­sion that the own­ers have spent a small for­tune deck­ing it out. There’s a vey relaxed, casu­al vibe, with plen­ty of tables and a mix of seat­ing, all set in a cozy glow of warm, dimmed and flat­ter­ing light­ing. The staff are com­plete­ly unflus­tered and friend­ly, and there’s no “you can’t sit here if you’re not eat­ing” atti­tude, even when the place pre­dictably gets super busy lat­er on. An exten­sive menu offers a mix of pre­dictable gas­tro items (slid­ers, pulled pork) but there’s enough of the more unusu­al, Scan­di­na­vian offer­ings to per­son­alise it. Sad­ly we had no time to par­take of the menu, so a return to Oslo is very short­ly on the cards. All I can attest to cur­rent­ly is that the three-times cooked chips, and drinks were fine, and not overpriced.

An extra dose of Scan­di­na­vian flavour hit the place on Mon­day with The Aster­oids Galaxy Tour on sell-out show, here to pro­mote their new album Bring Us Togeth­er. The Dan­ish pop duo, who extend to a full band for live shows, have hit inter­na­tion­al atten­tion since they launched in 2007 – the pre­vi­ous albums are Fruit and Fre­quen­cy. Two of Fruit’s songs hap­pened to catch the eye of TV and adver­tis­ing peo­ple – ‘Around the Bend’ was fea­tured in iPod com­mer­cials, and ‘The Gold­en Age’ found itself on Mad Men and com­mer­cials world­wide (see Heineken advert below). Lend­ing Aster­oids Galaxy Tour that Mad Men 60s vibe is the quirky voice of Mee­ta Lind­berg – it’s got a retro cutesy vocal thing going on, not breathy and gen­tle, but some­thing more akin to Kate and Cindy of the B52s.

The inti­mate lit­tle venue at Olso is up on the first floor, with a nice­ly mixed age (and friend­ly) crowd, and it proved to be the per­fect envi­ron­ment for the show (a word about the supe­ri­or sound sys­tem which cer­tain­ly is all-envelop­ing, very loud but clear and well bal­anced). The band opened with new album’s title track Bring Us Togeth­er, a sexy, grind­ing num­ber with a bluesy under­tone. Mee­ta prowl­ing the stage in glit­tery rust coloured track­suit top and glit­tery jack­et. Next was Nav­i­ga­tor, a deli­cious paen to Sat­ur­day Night Fever dis­co. Third track in is the crowd pleas­er, Round the Bend, which did exact­ly what it was sup­posed to do, get the audi­ence danc­ing. It’s always a relief when you hear the open­ing notes of your favourite num­ber, and lat­er on came Push The Enve­lope which was per­haps one of the best sound­ing songs of the evening, tak­ing things down a notch with it’s slow, sexy rhythm and purring lyrics. Then it was time to take things back up to danc­ing level.

Its dif­fi­cult to pay atten­tion to the oth­er mem­bers of the band, all atten­tion is on Mee­ta who moves sin­u­ous­ly over the stage, prowl­ing and pout­ing and most­ly def­i­nite­ly remind­ing one of Blondie, espe­cial­ly with her new­er short­er hair cut. The AGT make no excus­es or pre­tend oth­er­wise: this is pure feel-good pop with a retro feel, those six­ties Sput­nik space-age sounds pop­ping up, along with dis­co, blues and hints of psy­che­delia. Some­times, on a cold Novem­ber Mon­day, there’s noth­ing bet­ter than a good night of danc­ing and meet­ing some like-mind­ed souls.

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