Shonen Knife + The Kut – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham on 18th April 2023

The Kut

There’s something very special about a three-piece band that, when played right, makes for an intense experience. Budgie, Motörhead and Nirvana all had that certain je ne sais quoi, and now you can add London’s The Kut to that illustrious list. With a sound far bigger than their constituent parts, this trio hit the stage like a raging tornado, and by second track, ‘If Looks Could Kill’, they’re firmly in the groove. The muted applause that greeted The Kut’s arrival builds exponentially as the assembled throng soon warm to their modus operandi, and require little goading to sing and clap along. Powered forward by a hard-hitting drummer (who attacks the skins like The Muppets’ Animal), The Kut operate with a take-no-prisoners ethos, and the whole band lock in tightly to ensure tracks such as ‘Bad Man’ are delivered with the requisite punch. Rarely letting up over a furious, frantic half hour, The Kut have made more than a few friends tonight, and I think when they return to the Rescue Rooms, it’ll be as headliners.

Naoko (Shonen Knife)

Shonen Knife’s plans for their 40th anniversary tour was scuppered by the global pandemic, with the original dates delayed by a calendar year, and that only served to enhance the sense of anticipation for tonight’s gig, and a tangible electricity crackles the air as we await the band. That sense of expectation is heightened by the use of ‘Mango Juice’ as an intro tape, and when Shonen Knife finally appear and launch into ‘Konnichiwa’, they turn the venue into a sea of smiles as fists pump the air and pint glasses are held aloft in mock salute. The effect that the band’s music has can’t be over emphasised: like a vitamin shot to the arm, it generates good vibes in people, and such is its life-affirming quality, it should really be prescribed on the NHS. It’s heartening to see spiky-topped, hardened punks pogoing to ‘Banana Chips’ and ‘Pop Tune’, and if you want to know how the band made a four-decade career by singing songs about cute animals and various foodstuffs, then there’s your answer.

Atsuko (left) & Naoko (Shonen Knife)

This line-up has been together for a few years and they display an easy chemistry that ensures the set ebbs and flows perfectly. Drummer Risa takes vocals on two songs (the Motown-inspired ‘Cycling Is Fun’ along with ‘Green Tea’) as does bassist Atsuko (‘Wasabi’, ‘I Am A Cat’), while Naoko delivers some deceptively-simple riffs and, with a voice that hasn’t aged at all, sings on all the other tracks. As befitting a 40th anniversary, Shonen Knife serve up a set list that touches all points of their career, and the band dig deep into their discography to pull out a few surprises such as ‘Capybara’ and ‘Concrete Animals’. However, new tracks ‘MUJINTO Rock’ and ‘Nice Day’ (from latest album Our Best Place) slot in just fine, but the biggest cheers are reserved for fan favourites ‘Riding On The Rocket’ and the frenetic ‘Cobra Verses Mongoose’, with the latter bringing the show to a shuddering conclusion. Of course, the band return for two well deserved encores: ‘Twist Barbie’ and, ensuring that everyone returns home with beaming smiles, a cover of ‘Top Of The World’ a Carpenters cover they’ve made their own.

Shonen Knife Set List:

  1. Mango Juice (Intro Tape)
  2. Konnichiwa
  3. Making Plans For Bison
  4. Pop Tune
  5. Jump Into The New World
  6. Cycling Is Fun
  7. Capybara
  8. Wasabi
  9. MUJINTO Rock
  10. Nice Day
  11. Sweet Candy Power
  12. Concrete Animals
  13. I Am A Cat
  14. Green Tea
  15. Riding On The Rocket
  16. Buttercup (I Am A Super Girl)
  17. Pyramid Power
  18. Cobra Versus Mongoose


  1. Twist Barbie
  2. Top Of The World