Shonen Knife + Cave Girl @ The Hare & Hounds, Birmingham – 24th July 2019


Birmingham’s own Cave Girl have a reputation as something of rising stars and on the strength of tonight’s performance it’s thoroughly deserved. Attired like the cops from an episode of ’80s drama Miami Vice the bands lack of pretension brings their songs to the fore and with tunes this good that’s exactly where they should be. With a definite garage rock influence it’s the kind of sound that grows on you and by the time we get to ‘Red Leather Boots’ they’ve won over any doubters. Next cut ‘Greasy Bastard’ is a definite highlight while ‘A Deeper Shade of Red’ is both antiquated and modern and is a fine slab of sublime indie rock. A theme tune of sorts the eponymous ‘Cave Girl’ slowly builds into a monolithic beast and closes an enjoyable set.

Almost 40 years ago in Osaka, Japan three young girls with a sweet tooth and a Ramones fixation formed a band to escape the trappings of a patriarchal society and on a sultry Wednesday evening the high priestesses of pop punk Shonen Knife make a welcome return to Birmingham. Taking to the stage with an effervescent enthusiasm and smiling from ear to ear the band launch into, rather appropriately, ‘Jump Into the New World’. Then, digging deep into their back catalogue, they pull out three fan favourites in the shape of ‘Lazybone’, ‘Twist Barbie’ and an adrenaline charged ‘Flying Jelly Attack’.

After the rockier direction of their previous two albums (2014’s Overdrive and 2016’s Adventure) Shonen Knife’s latest record finds the band perfectly inhabiting the middle ground between rock and punk. We’re then treated to three from that record, Sweet Candy Power with a raucous ‘Party’, the perfect pop punk of ‘Dizzy’ and the slightly surreal ‘Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches’. Original drummer Atsuko is back in the fold and now handling bass duties and she takes vocals on ‘Ice Cream City’. Perhaps attesting to their drift into hard rock territory drummer Risa is attacking her kit with great gusto and sings with equal temerity on ‘Green Tea’. Behind a silver, glittery guitar and bathed in gorgeous, shiny light vocalist Naoko is every inch the star and throws rock star poses throughout the set.

Inspired by a love of British ’70s and ’80s hard rock ‘My Independent Country’ is the toughest cut on the new album and to illustrate this the band tease the crowd with a few bars from ‘Crazy Train’ by way of an introduction. A Shonen Knife show is not for the hungry as ‘Sweet Candy Power’ follows along with the evergreen ‘Banana Chips’. ‘Riding on the Rocket’ and ‘Buttercup (I’m a Super Girl)’ take us up to the end of the show and it’s heartening to see hardened punks pogoing to these songs about sweet foods and super heroes. Of course the band return for two well deserved encores including ‘All You Can Eat’ (surely the only punk song with a kazoo solo!) and ‘Antonio Baka Guy’ with it’s loud-quiet dynamics is the perfect set closer.

The band make themselves available for signings and photographs after their set which is always a nice touch before the whole venue retreat into the night, infected with some of the bands contagious happiness.

Reviewed by Peter Dennis.

Shonen Knife Set List:

  1. Jump Into the New World
  2. Lazybone
  3. Twist Barbie
  4. Flying Jelly Attack
  5. Party
  6. Dizzy
  7. Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches
  8. Public Bath
  9. Ice Cream City
  10. Capybara
  11. Like a Cat
  12. Green Tea
  13. California Lemon Trees
  14. My Independent Country
  15. Sweet Candy Power
  16. Banana Chips
  17. Riding on the Rocket
  18. Buttercup (I’m a Super Girl)


  1. All You Can Eat
  2. Antonio Baka Guy