If The Fleece’s all Japanese line up proved anything, it’s that you don’t need an abundance of musical talent to be entertaining.
Both are endearingly shambolic and in many ways conform to every stereotype the West has about infantilised Japanese pop culture.
But they perform with such joy and enthusiasm you’d have to have a pretty hard heart not to be won over.
The two groups share similar obsessions, writing songs about such weighty subjects as cats, jelly beans and Selotape.
Of the two, London’s No Cars at least do this with a knowing nod and a wink that suggests they’re not being entirely serious.
More like performance art, the three piece are unlike any band you’ve ever seen.
Pig-tailed singer Haruna introduced the songs while a girl in bunny ears held up signs with the song titles in Japanese and English, and usually some kind of cute drawing.
For one track, bass player Sachi donned a cat mask and danced around the stage like a ballerina while Haruna chanted “meow meow” over and over.
For another they brought a member of the audience on stage, and gave him a red panda puppet to play with while they sang about English racism.
It probably didn’t hurt that they’re one of the more photogenic bands the Fleece has ever seen, but their demented imagination certainly won over the crowd.
Shonen Knife were what the enthusiastic audience had come for though, and the Osaka three piece didn’t disappoint.
The lyrics to their opening number – Konichi-wa, let’s have fun tonight – sums up their attitude and their appeal as much as anything else.
From “Twist Barbie” to “Supergroup” they tore through their 30 year history in a rapturously received set.
Musically they have been “borrowing” riffs from The Ramones for years, so it’s amusing that their latest album is all covers of New York’s finest.
If ever there was a group of people less like Joey, Johnny and Dee Dee it’s Shonen Knife, but the inspired madness of a middle aged Japanese woman singing “The KKK took my baby away” made for a fantastic encore.