TsuShiMaMiRe at The Underworld, Camden

live report - 02.04.2018 10:01

It was a long time in coming, but TsuShiMaMiRe’s UK debut is worth the wait.

It seems TsuShiMaMiRe are a forgetful bunch. They entitled their 2018 European tour WE FORGET SOMETHING IN THE BLACK FOREST, presumably to go back for their missing stuff from their 2016 European tour. Now they take another brief swing through Europe on their WE FORGET TO TAKE A PICTURE WITH THE EIFFEL TOWER EURO TOUR 2018, to finish up their holiday snaps along the way. Surprisingly, given the large number of shows they’ve played overseas, this is the first time they’ve appeared in the UK. Camden’s grungy basement venue, The Underworld, a regular stop for many touring Japanese bands, plays host to their UK debut.

Without fanfare or intro, TsuShiMaMiRe quietly wander onstage. Singer and guitarist Kono Mari and bassist Tsushima Yayoi take up their instruments to check their tuning while Takagi Maiko, former support drummer and now permanent band member, takes her seat behind the drum kit.

Mari looks up from her battered and worn Fender Jaguar to greet everybody, “Konnichiwa! We are TsuShiMaMiRe from Tokyo, Japan. This is our first time in London!” She heads to the edge of the stage, right up in the crowd’s faces, shouting “My brain is shortcake” over and over, scrambling her hands through her hair. “Don’t be afraid of Japanese girls! Are you ready for TsuShiMaMiRe?” she cries out and ready or not, they launch into the frenzied opener My Brain is Shortcake.

It’s not the biggest crowd The Underworld has ever seen, but everyone’s into it straight away as Mari peppers them with her machine gun-speed vocals. The ferocious pace keeps on with Time Lag and the stylishly retro Jaguar, before Mari delivers another dose of tongue twister lyrics with Hello World.

Pausing for a breather, Mari shares her first day in London with everyone, discussing trying out the beer, shopping and, of course, fish and chips. They’re kind of obsessed with food, which features in a lot of TsuShiMaMiRe songs, and Mari even drew a little cartoon fish and chips on her set list for tonight’s show. She wraps up, saying “We really wanted to come here for many years. We’re really happy.” before announcing the next song Bubbles. This track, driven on by Yayoi’s funky bass line, doubles as an intro for the band. Mari gives Yayoi and Maiko a namecheck and they each bash out a solo. When it comes to Mari’s turn, she thrashes it out with her guitar held up behind her head.

The middle of the set has a quick burst of Don’t You?, Girl’s Talk and Space Elevator from their latest album, New. Mari takes a moment here to give a brief history of the band. They formed in 1999 and kept the same lineup until 2017 when original drummer, Masuda Mizue left, later replaced by Maiko. After going 19 years Mari warned, “Please, don’t ask our age!” If you had to guess, you might say 19 based on the raw energy they throw at their performance. Mari bounces around like a hyperactive teenager, grinning with excitement but Yayoi is something else altogether. She’s a powerful musician who turns playing the bass into an erotic adventure, as she swaggers and writhes across the stage, teasing the crowd with a knowing smile.

The punk label that TsuShiMaMiRe are often tagged with doesn’t really do justice to their eclectic songwriting style. After all, it’s a woman’s prerogative to switch mood in an instant, and their set flips effortlessly from the sweet Dream of Love to the darkly menacing Human Coating to the nutty Lazy Marriage with Kitty Hairs.

Closing out the show is the perky pop-punk number, Speedy Wonder, which provides one last chance to enjoy Mari’s rapid-fire vocals. They disappear briefly backstage before the cheers bring them back out. They treat the crowd to a swift and raucous encore with a double bill of Mr.Punk and its sequel Mr.Punk 2. Mari takes a spill while running around like a mad thing, but no harm done and before you know it, they’re saying their goodbyes and it’s all over.

Let’s hope TsuShiMaMiRe forgot to get their photo taken at the Tower of London while they were here and that a return visit is in the cards.

Set List

01. My Brain is Shortcake
02. Time Lag
03. Jaguar
04. Hello World
05. Bubbles
06. Don’t You?
07. Girl’s Talk
08. Space Elevator
09. Dream of Love
10. Sex on the Beach
11. Beginning
12. Fa*** & Fafa
13. Human Coating
14. Lazy Marriage with Kitty Hairs
15. Speedy Wonder

Encore
01. Mr.Punk
02. Mr.Punk 2
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TsuShiMaMiRe
London - United Kingdom
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