OzAsia Review: Shonen Knife + Satan’s Cheerleaders

Cult Japanese pop punkers Shonen Knife prove they can still smash out loud rocking big fun 35 years deep into their career.

Although we were kept waiting for the gig to start (very rock ‘n’ roll indeed), this one-off show just had to be one of the coolest of all the OzAsia offerings – and certainly the wildest and loudest.

Taking their name from a ghastly 1977 horror movie, Satan’s Cheerleaders turned out to be four serious dudes who proceeded to play a short but sweet suite of songs taken from (gulp!) the 1987 computer game The Last Ninja, originally developed for the Commodore 64, complete with the retro graphics projected onto a screen behind them. There was a little funny audience banter, some gorgeously ‘80s sax and just the right quotient of irony, however nerdy it all might have been.

Shonen Knife kept us waiting, teasingly appearing for a sound-check and then vanishing, but when the three-woman Japanese ‘musical adventurist group’ properly took to the stage in silver lamé, they immediately set about bringing the house down (as they’ve been doing in various forms for 35 years now), and the audience went happily berserk.

New songs included Jump Into the New World (mostly sung by serious lead guitarist Naoko and her bass guitarist sister Atsuko, who enjoyed rather more rock-god strutting and hair-flicking) and the hopelessly catchy Green Tangerine, the main vocal part of which was supplied by new member Risa who, as they say, went off sideways. Her sheer glee and wickedly energetic drum stylings were pretty damn fabulous.

Naoko joked that many of the older songs were about food but it didn’t matter, with All you Can Eat helped along by Atsuko’s kazoo, the heavy Ramen Rock a wonderful thumper, the goofy Sushi Bat Song great fun and Barbecue Party achieving an almost Ramones-like silliness with lyrics about jelly beans.

Returning for an encore, they ripped through The Monkees’ Daydream Believer and finished with some final guitar flourishes, leaping and whooping, and it was no wonder that the punters were shouting, “Arigato!”

Shonen Knife + Satan’s Cheerleaders performed at Nexus Arts on Friday, September 30

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