The Topp Twins

The Topp Twins, Founders Mainstage, Nelson Arts Festival. Thursday, October 25. Reviewed by Judith Paviell.

It’s one of those times that, when it ends, you’re exhausted, cheeks ache from laughing, hands tingle from clapping and your heart lies open. You look at your neighbour, and smile. That’s it. End of story.

Well, that part of it. After two encores these most consummate of Kiwi entertainers then spent almost an hour graciously signing autographs and posing for photos, despite Jools carrying the sadness of news her best friend died of cancer yesterday (Thursday).

More than two hours earlier the pair hit the ground laughing, bounding on stage cowgirl style as the Gingham Sisters, Linda wearing an independent- waisted skirt. Hilarity and innuendo continued full-tilt, interrupted by moments of sublime vocals.

Brave engineer Kevin endured umpteen risqué lifting demands from Linda for her forays into the audience.

Some fans were insulted, belittled, one man had his bald head buffed, one woman had her handbag heisted and taken on stage.

How to  concentrate on a romantic, moving number to serenade enduring couples like Owen and Edith from Stoke, married 50-plus years, while Linda rummaged through Gail’s (we learnt her name) bag, exposing all personal contents and rifling her wallet.

This rudeness was taken in in stride, although punters became reluctant to raise their hands to answer seemingly innocuous questions, because who knew what you’d end up doing.

The sell-out audience ranged from seven-year-old Brady to those over 80. I won’t forget the sight of all of us on our feet dancing the moves to the Crystals Da Do Ron Ron, led by Kevin on stage with Camp Mother and Camp Leader. That man deserves a medal.

Another standout sequence among standouts was the blindingly funny silhouetted sight of the twins changing into their Camp girls gear to the music of Poi E. Hold the mascara!

In the second half the twins performed as ‘themselves’, toned down, less slapstick, but still great stories and ongoing rapport with their audience. It didn’t matter that the routines may not be new, they made them Nelson’s.

More of those unique songs flowed, blues, country, rock and folk. Stunning combinations of strong, clear vocals and harmonies; amazing yodelling sequences from Linda, her mouth-harp sounding its own unique resonating voice, too.

Many favourites were aired, including: Honky Tonk Angel Patsy Cline, dedicated to Jools’ late friend; Tutira Mai Nga Iw and Pinto Pony. Radicals from way back, the pair preceded Holy Cow with their concerns about rapidly increasing dairy herd sizes and what that means for the cows as well as the environment. Then the treat of Calf Club Day and Palomino Moon for the encore.

Never mind Richie McCaw: when will these national and international treasures be knighted - or ‘damed’? As it is, they are two great dames who manage to be consistently shocking and shockingly good.

They do it all again at another sell-out show on Friday.