Wednesday 3 October 2012

Osaka Ramones (Shonen Knife) at Cargo - 01 October 2012

Shonen Knife as Osaka Ramones

Some things you can predict, some things you can’t…

I wouldn’t have predicted that Wussy, the first band on tonight and who hail from Cincinnati, are normally a five piece ensemble.

Tonight Wussy are stripped down to the vital core of Chuck Cleaver and Lisa Walker. He, massive and full of beard. She, wiry and bright eyed. Both heavily covered in tattoos across all exposed areas of flesh.

The pair broadly alternate vocal chores between them, and surprisingly, Chuck’s voice is often higher than Lisa’s, a beautiful sound that seems unusual coming from a guy who looks like he leads a Hells Angel Chapter.

Wussy are set square at that junction of Americana where folk and country collide. Individual songs are firmly in one camp or the other. Occasionally you could close your eyes and see the rhinestones.

For the second half of their set the pair are joined by the drummer from one of the other acts, American Werewolf Academy. As my colleague points out, this guy looks pissed in both the British and American senses of the word.  He seems surly and over-tired, but does a fine job backing Wussy, adding a necessary dynamism to propel them to a satisfactory conclusion.

I wouldn’t have predicted that American Werewolf Academy would be so shonky. The three of them crash about artlessly and hoarsely shout at us. There is lots of guitar posing and leg kicking but they just seem like louts bawling about.

I’ve always found that bands from abroad have a certain level of confidence and stage craft – after all, it is a big step to play your music in another country and bands don’t tend to attempt this until they have reached a particular level of tightness and competence. American Werewolf Academy blow that theory out the water. They are possibly alcohol-impaired, but tonight they are galumphing, slipshod and annoying.

After that unpleasant surprise there is nothing more predictably satisfying than Shonen Knife.

This Osaka three piece have played for many years and while they never really vary, they never disappoint. It is an older crowd tonight, many still wearing the same plaid shirts they wore when Kurt Cobain first championed the band to a wider audience.

Tonight Shonen Knife are performing as their alter-egos, Osaka Ramones.

Their set is Ronseal – thirty five minutes of nonstop Ramones classics that barely last two minutes each and which are separated one from the next by a high-pitched scream of “1,2,3,4”.

Starting with ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’, ‘Psychotherapy’ and ‘Rockaway Beach’ da sistas go on to bam-a-lam their way through ‘Sheena Is A Punk Rocker’, ‘I Wanna Be Sedated’ and ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll High School’. The stage is drenched in dry ice amongst which we see manes of black hair whipped about, beaming smiles and ‘\m/’ finger salutes.

They pause for breath, and encore with two songs of their own, including ‘Pop Tune’ from their new album of the same name.

Shonen Knife are a pure fun delivery system. A good time guaranteed each and every time.  That’s not even a prediction. That’s a stone cold fact.


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