Shonen Knife Live – Falmouth, Cornwall
Shonen Knife Live – Falmouth, Cornwall, the Japanese all girl punk icons played Falmouth’s Princess Pavilions on Tuesday night to a 400 strong crowd. Hosted by ‘What We Do Is Secret’ the crowd were warmed up by Lost Dawn.
Shonen Knife Live – Falmouth, Cornwall | Review by Lee Trewhela.
FALMOUTH Rock City! The Cornish harbour town has been called many things over the years, but this was a first. But then Shonen Knife aren’t your average band – an all-female group formed in 1981 when that was still a shockingly new phenomenon. The fact they’re from Osaka in Japan only added to the novelty factor.
However, original member Naoko Yamano and her ever-revolving litany of bandmates are anything but a novelty. Their bubblegum pop mix of Ramones and Buzzcocks speed and bounce has balls. So much so that the grunge generation took them to their hearts and in the early ’90s Shonen Knife were in danger of becoming international stars.
Having just released their 19th – yes, 19th – album, Adventure, the trio were back on British shores and arrived in Falmouth Rock City to a crowd made up of those who remembered them first time round, Falmouth’s students and musicians, and a line of schoolgirls front of stage.
This was the first gig for many of them and I can’t think of better role models to launch your love of live music – a bunch of women, cranking it out without the boorishness you’d expect from male bands, while obviously loving every minute of playing to an appreciative audience.
It was all heavy metal devil horns, duelling guitar choreography and monitor jumping, but Shonen Knife do it all with such joie de vivre, that any semblance of male cock-rock cliché was knocked out of the Pavilion.
With their matching Shonen Knife pendants, held aloft at start and finish, twinkling silver costumes and never-ending smiles, they were like some crazed Manga version of punk.
That would be sing-along punk if you could actually sing along. The most discernible lyrics appeared to be in awe of food (Wasabi, Green Tangerine, Banana Chips) and animals (Bear Up Bison, Capybara – that was a particularly catchy one – and Giant Kitty).
As the whole audience fell in love with Risa, whose smile was as contagious as her drumming, it soon became clear that a full Shonen Knife headline set was a bit of a joyous war of attrition.
After 50 minutes of this incessant yet infectious bludgeoning, my smile became slightly forced but Shonen Knife remain a charming and unique experience.
Special mention should go to Falmouth’s own Lost Dawn, who opened alongside Planet Jazz. They take a step up with each live performance; their bluesy psychedelia morphs into something different with every gig though they have an infuriating way of playing new songs just as we’re getting used to the old set. But that’s progress.
They’re as tight a trio as you will ever see and – it bears repeating – Stanley Duke is a born frontman and guitarist, an indie Prince dipped in peroxide.