Opening words; without a doubt the sweetest and most delicious three balls of Japanese candy floss I have ever had the pleasure to be in the room with. Punk review? Candy Floss? Bear with me!
I am not going to lie this review was based on another worldly experience, not sure if I had been secretly doped with LSD because all I know is that I cannot have been on this planet, in our time, and experienced the punk that is Shonen Knife. My immediate written ramblings on the night were;
‘Shonen knife what can I say ermmm Punk meets Disney – not sure if I’m in a parallel surreal world with fluffy chics and synchronised Duracell bunnies’.
Now before anyone jumps to their defence, size 10 muddy DM’s and all, I used the word surreal not shit! Musically these ladies are super talented and with a discography that spans nearly four decades they are not to be sniffed at. Supporting bands like Nirvana in their early years and influenced by The Beatles, The Buzzcocks and The Ramones they are unquestionably masters of their trade which is why they are still going strong.
The show, at The Hare & Hounds in Birmingham – part of their UK tour, was like a conveyor belt of every kind a punk mish mash you could imagine with a journey through food; ‘YES FOOD’ which I never imagined punk possible! From all you can eat buffets, to Ramen noodles and vegetables we musically ate a through a royal banquet. Lyrically the songs showed diversity in content from what I would consider Japanese ‘novelty smile and be cute punk’ to the uplifting ‘Jump into the new world’ track. This is where my Disney reference comes in! I felt a bit like I was on the set of High School Musical gets punked! A teens prom celebration where they hire a so called edgy band to rock it up.
Despite my personal disorientation on whether I do or don’t want to lap up the enigma that is Shonen Knife, the place was packed and the crowd stayed joyously jigging throughout. The ladies innocent and authentic charm and utter gratefulness to be playing was infectious, not an ego in sight…. BUT it did feel gimmicky in parts. The question is; are the ladies products of their culture whereby every move and expression is precision planned and executed or has someone thought to advise them to ‘Stand here, smile there, rock out now?’ If so it shows and takes away, for me, their authentically wonderful charm.
The point is if you want to just go out have a great fun time without having to consider the core principalities of Shonen Knife’s rebellion message then go, grab a beer and have a laugh with your mates singing along to Rock ‘n’ roll T-shirt. If however there is a chance that your will suffer an out of body experience at the idea of being sucked into a Sega retro video game where Hello Kitty characters are playing guitar hero at a punk concert then Shonen Knife are not for you!
Shonen Knife are like marmite – you will either love them or hate them. I will let you decide.