First of all, I'd like to say a very big thank you to all of you who read my recent blog post with my Top Ten Japanese Bands, in which Shonen Knife were featured; so far it's been one of the most popular posts I have written yet, so thanks again!! Please do comment with your favourite bands too; I'd love to hear what else is out there, and maybe find some new music to listen to. Also, don't be afraid to disagree with any of my choices, I'm always interested in others' opinions.
Anyway, on to the gig review...
On Friday night a friend and I went to see one of my favourite Japanese pop punk girl bands, Shonen Knife play live at The Queen's Social Club, Sheffield, England. I've enjoyed their music for twenty two years now (Wow! Is it really that long?!), and I'm sure I'll continue to do so for many years to come. In fact, they celebrated their thirtieth anniversary a couple of years ago (I was at one of those shows too :D).
We arrived quite early at the venue, so obviously it was pretty empty when we entered the establishment. The venue has a capacity of five hundred people, but with it looking so empty I was afraid that it might be too big for the band. Having seen them play the previous year at the Nottingham Glee Club and the number of people at that show, I thought that they were never going to fill this place up! I'd seen them at another venue in Nottingham before and another in Leicester as well, and they were pretty full, so I don't know why it was less crowded last year.
How wrong I was though; by the time the two support bands had finished performing their sets, the venue was pretty solidly packed out. I guess that seeing as Shonen Knife hadn't played in Sheffield in the last twenty years (vocalist/guitarist Naoko Yamano revealed this fact to much amusement from the crowd), there was a lot of anticipation for them to play a live show there again.
We were lucky enough to get a really great spot right at the front of the audience; we had a brilliant view of the band, standing right in front of Ristuko Taneda, the bass guitarist.
"Konnichiwa! Konnichiwa! Welcome to our show!"
"Konnichiwa! Konnichiwa! Let's have a good time tonight!"
And a good time was what we were all in store for! As always, their show was full of energy, and a great repertoire of sing-along songs coming thick and fast that had the audience in captivated mood.
Next they played Banana Chips, also from Happy Hour, an upbeat song (not unlike almost all of their others) about "sliced bananas lightly fried in coconut oil, mmm... They're just a little bit sweet"!
After this, the band performed some of their songs from the album Let's Knife (1992), including "Flying Jelly Attack", and "Riding on the Rocket". Also from that album is the song "I Am A Cat"; it was drummer Emi Morimoto's turn as vocalist on this song. I am always impressed by drummers who can sing and play at the same time. I've tried it myself, and while I'm no drummer, keeping time and singing simultaneously seems to be pretty difficult. I play guitar, and it's hard enough to sing along with that sometimes.
This was immediately followed by "Cycling is Fun", an innocent song about going down to the green fields on a sunny day and, yep you guessed it, riding on a bicycle. Bassist Ritsuko was on vocal duty this time. The song is also from Let's Knife. Unfortunately, I'd stopped recording when this happened, but I got a short video clip of her.
"Perfect Freedom", "Pop Tune", "Osaka Rock City", "Pyramid Power", "Rubber Band", "Rock 'n' Roll High School" (Ramones cover), "Cobra Versus Mongoose", and possibly "Economic Crisis", but I'm not sure cos I was listening to Shonen Knife in the car on the way to the gig as well, so it's a bit of a muddle in my mind... Anyway, that's all I can remember right now... Phew! If anyone else was there, and can remember any other songs they played, let me know!
They're all great songs, and you should give them a listen. If you're into the Ramones style of punk rock sung with female vocals, then there's a good chance that you'll like them.
After this, the band exited the stage to thunderous applause, followed by the rhythmic chanting of "Sho-nen Knife! Sho-nen Knife! Sho-nen Knife! Sho-nen Knife!" and cries of "Moooore!!!!"
Shonen Knife obliged us after a few minutes backstage and performed their encore; a punked up version of the Carpenters' hit song "Top of the World", taken from the 1994 tribute album If I Were a Carpenter. This is a pretty cool album with other Carpenters' songs recorded by bands and artists including The Cranberries, Matthew Sweet and Sonic Youth. Anyway, for the Shonen Knife performance, the crowd were jumping and singing along to what was the end to a fantastically fun-packed show.
If anything, I think this performance was probably the best I had ever seen them. I loved every song, and the atmosphere was great. I hope they'll keep coming back to the UK; as long as they do, I'll definitely continue to go and see them. You should too!
After the show, Shonen Knife were doing a signing session. I bought a T-Shirt and one of their older albums that I hadn't got yet for some reason, Heavy Songs (2003), which the band signed for me. We were also given a free three-track live CD with every T-Shirt purchase, so I was very happy about that too!
I also got a photograph taken with Shonen Knife, but I forgot to switch on the flash on my camera, and for some reason didn't turn it on and try again; I've tried to brighten it up, and I don't think it looks too bad. I'll make sure I get a better one next time!
This show was the first date of their current UK/European tour; see their website for information on where you can purchase tickets. The dates are as follows:
06 Sep 2013 Sheffield Queens Social Club UK
07 Sep 2013 Stowmarket John Peel Centre For Creative Arts UK
11 Sep 2013 Cologne King Georg DE
12 Sep 2013 Frankfurt Das Bett DE
13 Sep 2013 Ebensee Kino Ebensee AT
14 Sep 2013 Zagreb Culture Factory HR
15 Sep 2013 Vienna Chelsea AT
16 Sep 2013 Bratislava, KC Dunaj - SK
17 Sep 2013 Budapest Durer Kert HU
18 Sep 2013 Prague, 007 CZ
19 Sep 2013 Nurnberg K4 DE
20 Sep 2013 Zug Galvanik CH
21 Sep 2013 Paris Tokyo Crazy Kawaii Festival FR
22 Sep 2013 Tilburg Incubate Festival NL
25 Sep 2013 Opwijk Nijdrop BE
26 Sep 2013 Rotterdam 'Camera Japan' Festival NL
27 Sep 2013 Utrecht dB's NL
28 Sep 2013 Namur Belvedere BE
29 Sep 2013 London, Dingwalls UK
If you live in UK/Europe and haven't got yourselves tickets for one of their live shows yet, get them now!!
All photos by AZNPopCulture