Shonen Knife

Live Review – Buffalo Bar, Cardiff, 21st August 2011

Shonen Knife may not be a name you’ve heard much before, but they have been around since 1981 and have achieved worldwide renown with coverage from the likes of the BBC via DJ John Peel. They are an all-girl pop-punk trio, heavily influenced by bands such as The Beach Boys and The Ramones. In fact they have just released a cover album called ‘Osaka Ramones – A Tribute to the Ramones’ as a tribute to their favourite band, and featuring classics such as ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’, Rock’n’Roll High School’, ‘Rockaway Beach’ and ‘Sheena is a Punk Rocker’. Perhaps their most famous fan, Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, is quoted as saying:

“When I finally got to see them live, I was transformed into a hysterical nine-year-old girl at a Beatles concert.”

Kurt Cobain, Nirvana

Celebrating 30 years of continued success, Shonen Knife set out on a UK tour and played the Buffalo Bar in Cardiff on Sunday 21st August 2011. The first support band were Super Cute Voices hailing from Aberystwyth, and being very reminiscent of quirky Japanese popsters Polysics went down quite well indeed. Next up were Cardiff based Victorian English Gentlemen’s Club, an experimental three piece band. When they got a groove going these were very good, but sometimes they were a little too segmented dropping out to a weird tempo section almost for the sake of experimenting.

Osaka Ramones
Osaka Ramones Album

At last Shonen Knife took the stage and it seemed that’s what everyone was waiting for. Immediately the crowd pushed forward and there was a palpable sense of excitement in the air. They kicked off with the usual “Konnichiwa”, which immediately got the crowd going and within seconds everyone was smiling and dancing, an atmosphere which got better and better as the gig went on. Shonen Knife have an extremely infectious stage presence, with bass player Ritsuko sporting the biggest smile ever for the entire gig, and new drummer Emi generally being happy and energetic throughout.  It is very difficult not to end up smiling, and loving every minute.

Free Time
Free Time Album

They also played at Buffalo Bar back in August 2009, a point which lead singer Naoko raised during introductions, stating that they enjoyed it so much they wanted to come back. So keep an eye out for them, you will not regret it.

Find out more about Shonen Knife on their official website at

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