Oo-oo-ultra-eccentric-super-cult-punk-pop-band Shonen Knife played Whelan’s recently & our man MrChips headed down to check them out.
The Japanese, a cruel race….or so Bridget Jones’ mother would have you believe. However she obviously wasn’t a fan of Shonen Knife. Cruel, quite possibly, is the last word you would use to describe them. When they come on stage they are more like 3 beams of sunshine from the far east, all smiles, waving hands and matching outfits, Amazing! It’s been 18 years since they played in the Rock Garden, which is a scary thought for those of us who were there. At one point Naoko jokes that a lot of people present probably weren’t born the last time they played here. That’s a slight exaggeration; they were probably in playschool. However regardless of the age difference , everyone here tonight is enjoying themselves and there is very little chin stroking to be seen.
The line up has changed over the years, with Naoko being the only original member left. However their sound remain intact, being a distinctive mix of pop and punk with lyrics about spaceships, Barbie dolls, chocolate and cats. They play a set that mixes old classics, such as ‘Twist barbie’, ‘Riding on a rocket’ and ‘Devil house’, with more recent stuff, such as ‘I am a cat’ and some other stuff of their new album ‘Super group’, stuff I don’t know so I can’t say much about it. In between songs they engage with the type of banter you want to hear from your favourite band; they are happy to be here, and they are really happy that we have come to see them! And there is something about the way they say it that makes you believe they mean it. Awwwwww!!
They played for little over an hour and came back on for a 3 song encore. This surprisingly (or not that surprising really) consisted of three Ramones songs. Had they been on the X Factor they would have been told ‘that they made those songs their own’. You can see from the way they play them where their love for all things punk and new wave comes from. However it would have been nice to hear something like ‘Antonio Baca Guy’ or ‘Expo 90’ (which is a song about a garden exhibition that took place in Osaka in 1990), after all it may be another 18 years before they come back again. Despite this one minor complaint the gig was really fantastic. Everyone is leaving with smiles on their faces and you can almost smell the love in the air. You really couldn’t ask for a better show at the end of a pretty drab summer.
If this doesn’t lift your mood then nothing will. Shonen Knife: Not cruel!