If you're going to have the 'Godzilla' theme played before you come on stage, you better be prepared to bring the house down. Luckily the Osaka Ramones are. The band are the side project of acclaimed Japanese pop-rock group Shonen Knife, and were neglecting their own material to play a set (almost) entirely made up of numbers from America's primary punk rock group.

Cover bands deservedly get a bad rap. But there is nothing slavish about the Osaka Ramones take on their inspiration. Indeed, it would be impossible for three diminutive women with obvious Japanese accents to try and actually pretend to be the Ramones. The Osaka Ramones pack just as much attitude into this music as it is possible to imagine the originals doing. But from their huge grins it is clear they are not taking the night's performance as a slavish mimicking of the past. Instead they simply rejoice in being able to thrash out a set of beloved punk tunes, in the process getting closer to the spirit and swagger of those songs and their originators than a studied attempt to actually look and sound like Joey, Dee Dee, et al. ever could.

From their starting point a shouted 'Onetwothreefour' leading into a chorused “Hey ho, let's go” the band blaze through a grand selection of hits, taking in 'Sheena is a Punk Rocker', 'Beat on the Brat' and the like. If there was anyone who doubted that the Ramones really were exquisite pop song writers, hearing 'Rockaway Beach' sung by three grinning Japanese women should convince them otherwise.

The band finish off the night by playing a couple of songs from their latest Shonen Knife album, deftly reminding the crowd that they have earned the right to be indulged in their Ramones worship by forging a career on their own and penning songs for their 'day job' band that are often a match for 'Pinhead' or 'Blitzkrieg Bop'

As they launch into another Ramones number, at the end of the show they have taken possession of this music to the extent it seems strange to imagine any of these songs being sung by anyone other than three ladies from Osaka.














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