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Shonen Knife - Ruby Lounge, Manchester, 30/4/2014

  by Nicky Crewe

published: 3 / 5 / 2014

Shonen Knife - Ruby Lounge, Manchester, 30/4/2014


Nicky Crewe misses most of Shonen Knife's gig at the Ruby Lounge in Manchester due to their late stage arrival, but feels that it was better to have seen some of the Tokyo all girl punk trio's set rather than nothing at all

Shonen Knife played the Ruby Lounge in Manchester on April 30th as one of the dates on their 'Overdrive' tour, promoting their new CD of the same name. It was another opportunity for me to see a living room concert in this small underground venue. Shonen Knife's history goes back to 1981 when Naoko Yamano started the band with her friend and her sister. She is still the singer and guitarist, looking way younger than her years. Ritsuko Taneda joined her on bass in 2006, and Emi Morimoto the drummer wasn't even born back in 1981. The audience reflected this long career and history. Some may have been there for the Kurt Cobain and Nirvana connection, others were past punks, possible Ramones fans, and then there were the young Japanese fans too. They were supported by Good Grief from Liverpool and Smallgang. They deserve their status as musicians without the Kurt Cobain recommendation, but it's a great story. 'Overdrive' is their twentieth album in over thirty years. When I think back to 1981, that post punk era when sisters really were doing it for themselves and women were redefining their role as musicians and song writers, I can see where Shonen Knife were coming from. There was also a fascination with Japan and Japanese culture. Around that time my next door neighbours, Durutti Column were off to tour Japan, where they had a surprisingly significant fan base. There was a real connection between punk and pop music within the different cultures. Shonen Knife look and sound fantastic. Energetic and refreshing, with great stage outfits, confident musicianship and the delightfully slightly surreal lyrics that sometimes come from being lost in translation. So, I was really looking forward to seeing them. It took some organising during this particular working week, but I made it to the Ruby Lounge in time for the first support band. I saw Shonen Knife arrive. I watched them put up posters on their merchandise stall. I listened to the second support band. I watched Shonen Knife do their sound check. If I'd paid more attention to the Ruby Lounge's Twitter feed, or checked the schedule for Mark Riley on 6 Music, I would have realised that they weren't due on stage until 10 p.m. But I didn't, and I am glad. I might not have made the effort to go. In all the years of going to gigs in Manchester, I have always managed to time it right, in spite of last slow trains and a work schedule. I wondered if I had jinxed this particular night by so looking forward to it. I saw them come on stage to a rapturous welcome from a packed audience, waving their Shonen Knife banners, wearing their lovely sequinned silver dresses. I heard them play, and knew I wanted to stay for more. But my last slow train was leaving, my car was at a remote rural station and I had no choice but to go. Regretfully I caught the train, retrieved my car, drove down a reputedly haunted road, got into the house, made myself a cup of Green Tea and sat down to think about a frustrating and surreal evening. Turning on the radio, I caught Beefheart's 'Abba Zaba' on Radio 3's 'Late Junction'. Almost where it all started for me, with the legendary jukebox at the Magic Village. I realised it was better to have seen too little than to have not gone at all. Shonen Knife are doing an extensive tour. Check if they are coming to a venue near you, and for my sake, go and see them. You won't regret it. Photos by Melanie Smith www.mudkissphotography.co.uk

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Shonen Knife - Ruby Lounge, Manchester, 30/4/2014

Shonen Knife - Ruby Lounge, Manchester, 30/4/2014

Shonen Knife - Ruby Lounge, Manchester, 30/4/2014

Shonen Knife - Ruby Lounge, Manchester, 30/4/2014

Shonen Knife - Ruby Lounge, Manchester, 30/4/2014

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