Shonen Knife performing at Jive

Japanese pop-punk outfit Shonen Knife are a joy to experience live.

Shonen Knife performing at Jive
Shonen Knife performing at Jive

Taken in isolation, the all-girl group’s back-catalogue of fast, simple songs can’t fully account for their 30 years of success, or why they have counted Kurt Cobain and members of The Ramones amongst their admirers. But watching them perform, it all becomes clear. There is such an infectious exuberance in their live show; I’d challenge anyone to see them and not sport a smile.

Kicking off the night with a suitably loud and brash set of psychedelic rock was local band, Glass Skies. The second support set came from Spanish duo, Za. With a versatile array of instruments and sound tricks, they made an impressive entrance from the back of the audience. While many seemed quite engaged by the performance, I found them a little too gimmicky: crazy sounds for the sake it.

By the time the main act arrived on stage, a good crowd had amassed, some of whom had seen the band 18 years ago at the Big Day Out. At a little over an hour, the set was short but high in energy. Every song came at the same frenetic pace, accompanied by rock salutes and smiles at the crowd. The trio were animated throughout, showing great enthusiasm with every note and lyric. It was impossible not to get swept away by it all.

Shonen2But you don’t survive for this long in the music industry on enthusiasm alone; they are also a tight and proficient ensemble, who put on a well drilled show.

The set highlighted songs from the band’s latest album, Overdrive, alongside tracks from their extensive career. They then ended the night with a single song encore covering their antecedents, The Ramones.

This band is great entertainment: rarely have I seen a gig that was so much fun from start to finish.

Reviewed by Matthew Trainor