Tuesday 20 August 2013

Shonen Knife BBQ Party at Brixton Windmill - 17 August 2013

Shonen Knife (pic Annie Lesser)

The weather is classed as 'changeable', which is not normally a concern when attending a gig, but this is not your usual Saturday afternoon outing.

I arrive at the London institution that is the Brixton Windmill to join in what is billed as 'Shonen Knife BBQ Party'.

We start off by paying respects to Roof Dog and head in. A band is making noise but turn out to be merely sound checking. We head out to the tiny concrete garden in back.

Shonen Knife are dispensing meat from a barbeque. They are brightly and identically dressed in exquisite yukata-mode mini-suits. We say hello and enjoy a tasty feast.

Over the course of the afternoon and early evening we get three support bands. None of them are unalloyed successes, but there are some flashes of interest.

Echolocation are an eclectic lot, featuring amongst other members a flat capped geezer declaiming Mark E Smith style cut up lyrics and a red-haired girl manipulating a similarly coloured electric cello. There's a trumpeter and various others in there as well somewhere. The songs are long, slow jams that gradually build in intensity but which never quite manage to deliver.

Passerines have two excellent singers whose voices are fine when employed separately but which rather clash when they attempt to harmonise. Hiro Toshi from Smallgang (playing later tonight) has a low, rich gravelly growl, while Katie has a pure, high folk voice, best showcased on a song that begins with a line that sounds uncommonly like "That chestnut tree looks demented". I like this more than I would have thought.

Former Utopia are celebrating their 100th gig. Good on them.

The crowd then congregates to the front of the tiny stage. After a brief hiatus Shonen Knife appear, waving their trademark scarves above their heads and squeaking with glee.

What follows is an hour of pure pop joy as the band blast out a set of Ramonsey rainbow rock with a food theme. We get 'Sushi Bar'. We get 'Blue Oyster'. We get 'Rock' n' Roll Cake'.  They even gambol through 'BBQ Party', which is especially apt.

Naoko Yamano engages with the happy throng in front of her like a benevolent mother, while bassist Ritsuko Taneda beams from ear to ear and leaps from side to side of the stage. Behind them, drummer Emi Morimoto whoops and jumps up and down.

The audience enthusiastically joins in with the dance routines, never more so than during a climatic version of '(I wanna go to) An All You-Can Eat' which features members of Smallgang corralled onstage to provide extra vocals and kazoo assistance.

As the girls leave, its still early, but I'm exhausted. I never knew so much fun could be this tiring!

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