Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Shonen Knife - live review

Leeds Brudenell, May 1st 2014

Although not part of Live at Leeds, this gig did feel a little like an unofficial curtain raiser for the city's annual music showcase. Fitting then, that it took place at the Leeds music scene's spiritual home, the Brudenell, which proved to be the perfect match for Shonen Knife's infectious power pop-punk. In fact, what band doesn't seem to revel within the famous venue's walls?
Before Shonen Knife's riotous set, local gals Esper Scout delivered a largely  underwhelming set of flaccid indie rock, which was bemoaned by one punter at the bar, exclaiming: "I thought I was coming to a punk gig." 

Resplendent in matching shiny dresses, the Japanese trio of Shonen Knife then set about delivering exactly what that chap signed up for with a performance brimming with a youthful playfulness that belies the fact that they've been an active band since 1981...three years before I was born. Holy shit. Granted, only Naoko Yamano has been with the band since those formative years, but with a whopping 20 albums under their belt, they've got no right to still be this urgent and god damn life affirming.  It's impossible to ignore the Ramones comparisons because, frankly, they sound almost identical - buzz-saw riffs and gang vocals are order of the day, but when it's this thrilling it's easy to forgive such blatant plagiarism. I'm not overly familiar with the band's extensive discography, which does tend to mean a lot of the songs blend into one giant, sugar-coated marshmallow - like the one from Ghostbusters, if you will.  Finishing their set by holding aloft their very own branded scarves left me under no illusions that this is a band I'll be supporting for another 20 albums. They've got that in them, right?

- Guy Atkinson