Unfortunately, we got there too late for Red Deer People, who we were told went down really well, but were glad we caught Ghost Car who were the perfect warm up for the headliners. Their tub-thumping, glam rock riffs had a touch of The B52s, with Farfisa organ and theremin enhancing the sound. There were Knight Rider synths fighting against punk rock guitars and Spanish singer Maria’s infectious high-pitched vocals sat somewhere between Clare Grogan and Poly Styrene. We’ll definitely see them next time they play Brighton.
Shonen Knife walk on stage with a salute of flags, take their positions, strap in and with fingers pointing to the heavens they take off with the four-to-the-floor pop punk joy of ‘Pop Tune’. It’s ridiculously catchy and sets the scene perfectly. The people next to us check the set list and say it’s different to Guildford and tell us they are also going to see them in London, proving that this is a band that people truly love.
‘Banana Chips’ is a bubblegum riot and ‘Jet Shot’, Naoko’s homage to her favourite hobby, tennis, is a full-throttle glam stomper. Drummer Risa, the newest member, takes lead vocals on the next song and instantly wins over the crowd before ‘Move On’ is beautifully simplistic but nonetheless effective.
They’re promoting new live album and DVD ‘Adventure’ and from it ‘Jump Into The New World‘ sees Naoko front and centre on lead vocals and guitar solos backed by oohs and aahs from her sister, and fellow founding member, Atsuko, back on bass duties.
As they perform a very Slade-like ‘Rock’n’Roll T-Shirt’, a glance around the room shows that those not dancing are nodding along and every single person is wearing the biggest smile. We are told they had tapas for lunch and Naoko reminisces about eating candy floss on the pier a couple of years ago, which leads nicely into the ‘food section’ of the set. ‘All You Can Eat’ features Atsuko on kazoo and a singalong chorus then they ramp it up with ‘Sushi Bar’, which takes us into Osaka Ramones territory. ‘Wasabi’ is appropriately hot and ‘Ramen Rock’ is like the New York Dolls’ ‘Pills’ but with class As substituted by noodles.
The set ends with a headbanging finale and guitar salute before they return for a surprising choice of encore – Nick Lowe’s ‘Cruel To Be Kind’, which turns out to be a perfect fit for them. It’s back to the menu for the final number ‘BBQ Party’ which perfectly captured their love of punk rock and the perfect pop hook.
Patterns, Saturday 7th April 2018
Words by Steve Clements
Photos by Guy Christie