Tuesday 9 October 2012

Shonen Knife as Osaka Ramones live at Cargo, London Monday October 01st

Photo by Steve Worrall
It's Shonen Knife alright, just not as we usually know them. For tonight, the band took to the stage at Cargo as their alter-ego, the Osaka Ramones. Naoko, Emi and Ritsuko appeared in a cloud of dry ice to the strains of Ennio Morricone's spaghetti western classic "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly", just as the Ramones used to do. The band's usual stage outfits of cute, Mary Quant meets Mondrian dresses, are replaced by jeans, Ramones T-shirts and black leather jackets and after a customary "1-2-3-4" they slam straight into "Blitzkrieg Bop". The crowd went crazy and there was much good natured pushing and shoving. Cargo is a great venue, although the various bar and terrace areas seem to take up more than the gig space itself. This means the audience is crammed in and it can be a struggle to get a decent view, however it certainly makes for an intimate atmosphere. "Psychotherapy" is next and is quickly followed by "Rockaway Beach" and "I Wanna Be Sedated", which didn't make the album. The thumping "KKK Took My Baby Away" leads into the New York Punk anthem "Chinese Rock" and then the brilliant "She's The One", one of my favourite Ramones songs. Actually, I think the choice of cover songs on the album is maybe a little bit predictable. However, to their credit, they do pick out the less well known, CJ Ramone penned "Scattergun", from the Ramones' last ever studio album, "Adios Amigos", and make it their own.

Emi, Ritsuko & Naoko - Photo by Steve Worrall
Next up is the singalong classic "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker" which takes the cellar style roof off the Cargo. Strangely enough, a couple of days later I was singing along to another cover of this when I saw The pUKES, the superb 20 strong ukulele wielding Punk Rock orchestra. Although each band is somewhat different in their approach and sound, The pUKES "George Formby plays Punk" style against Shonen Knife's more traditional take, both have a similar effect. That is, you just can't stop smiling, it's infectious! Bassist Ritsuko, with her Dee Dee style low slung bass that's almost touching the floor, grins through her long thrashing hair, and singer and guitarist Naoko responds with a cheery smile throughout the show. The band are having fun and so are we. But it's their fantastic drummer Emi, who seems to be having more fun than all of us put together as she powers round her kit, adding backing vocals and yet more of those Shonen Knife smiles.

Shonen Knife drummer Emi - Photo by Steve Worrall
Things come to a close with "Beat On The Brat", "Rock and Roll High School" and a brilliant version of "Pinhead". Naoko lifts her guitar over her head and as the green lazers cut through the dry ice, multi-coloured confetti showers down on the audience, brilliant!  The band return for a well deserved three song encore of "Pop Tune" and "Osaka Rock City" from the new "Pop Tune" album and "Economic Crisis" from "Free Time", and that was it.  I was hoping for more of their own classic songs, but it did make me rush out and buy tickets for their return show at the Cargo on October 16th, where they promised us a full Shonen Knife set, and I can't wait. Well, it's taken me a week to get this review out but I haven't stopped smiling...

Shonen Knife as Osaka Ramones - Photo by Steve Worrall
Naoko - Photo by Steve Worrall
Ritsuko - Photo by Steve Worrall
Shonen Knife/Osaka Ramones in action - Photo by Steve Worrall
Naoko, guitar hero - Photo by Steve Worrall
Ritsuko points the way - Photo by Steve Worrall
Confetti time - Photo by Steve Worrall
Naoko, Ritsuko & Emi after the show - Photo by Steve Worrall
All photos copyright Steve Worrall 2012. For access to more exclusive photos of the show please visit and "Like" the Retro Man Blog Facebook  page. Here's a video of  "Blitzkreig Bop".

More exclusive videos can be found at the Retro Man Blog YouTube Channel.

There's also a good fan page, The Shonen Knife Nexus, here.

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