SHONEN KNIFE are celebrating their 33 years with new album Overdrive, and have been touring the UK and Ireland to a host of loyal fans, old and new. Championed by Kurt Cobain (“When I finally got to see them live, I was transformed into a hysterical nine-year-old girl at a Beatles concert.”), and having shared the stage with the likes of Nirvana and Sonic Youth, Shonen Knife has evolved its lineup over the years and has quite rightly maintained its reputation as one of the most enigmatic, fun and technically tight bands to see live.
We catch up with Naoko Yamano, Ritsuko Taneda and Emi Morimoto at Manchester’s Ruby Lounge. A stunning set played to a packed crowd, with highlights from the new album including the brilliant Green Tea sung by drummer Emi. Introducing Like A Cat, endearingly Naoko thanks all the fans who contributed video clips of their cats to the official video. Ritsuko displays her beaming smile with pride, surely one of the happiest bass players out there, head banging her hair around.
As the set gets fiercer and the crowd gets sweatier, Naoko and Ritsuko are in full jumping and head-banging mode, Ritsuko her hair shaking well over the heads of people in the front row. By the end, Shonen Knife mania has taken over the venue, and after switching from their sparkly matching outfits to matching band logo t-shirts, the night closes with the trio shuffling frantically to front of stage, holding up Shonen Knife official scarfs to whoops and screams of adoration.
The band don’t disappear backstage without a thank you – they’re eagerly on duty at the merch stand, signing every fan purchase and taking every fan photo right until the bitter end – a sterling example of respect for their fans, and underlining Naoko’s personal philosophy of looking forwards and living in the moment.
They continue on to Leeds, where they fill and smash the famed Brudenell, supported by local buzz band ESPER SCOUT.