Review: Shonen Knife at The Joiners, Southampton

Shonen Knife
Shonen Knife

Club Scene with Sam Cherry

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Given the culture they emerged from there’s something simultaneously incongruous and rather brilliant about an all-women punk band from Osaka, Japan, celebrating its 35th anniversary this year.

Led by frontwoman Naoko, the trio have pumped out 19 albums of bubblegum punk-pop, and on the evidence of this gig, show no signs of letting up any time soon.

Decked out in identical metallic, tasselled outfits – made by bassist Atsuko – the trio put on a high-energy display that would shame bands half their age.

Drummer Risa, the new kid on the block, is a perma-smiling dervish behind the kit, but she never misses a beat.

In fact, the whole band are tight – the songs may be deceptively simple, but dropping the occasional shredding guitar solo is not beyond Naoko.

The songs – sung mostly in English – are often odes to food and cute animals and are as catchy as hell. BBQ Party is a stand-out, building to a frenetic climax.

New songs from recently released album Adventure, like the Risa-sung Green Tangerine, nestle nicely alongside older songs like Concrete Animals

Their Ramones-fuelled ramalama, filtered through Naoko’s love of classic rock (hence the solos) and the Japanese love of all things ‘kawaii’ (cute) results in an hour-long set that put a huge grin on the faces of most in the packed Joiners.

With a one-song encore of 1998 single, the joyously silly Banana Chips, they’re done. But let’s hope they’re back before long.