Last week I was lucky enough to hear one of the most energetic, unique and exciting rock bands on the planet perform what can be inadequately described as experimental hardcore punk at the three best gigs I've been to this year. Melt Banana of Tokyo are on tour in Europe and making an exhilarating manic noise everywhere they go. Their surgically masked guitarist Agata, sends all kinds of unlikely sounds roaring from his six strings via his big rack of effects pedals; breaking glass, machine gun fire and emergency sirens all augment his frantic slide antics. Singer Yako sounds utterly unlike any other singer, yelping like a small puppy or letting loose a helium barrage of unintelligible invectice as she does a surf dance through the thick waves of Banana mosh fodder. Tiny bassist Rika and American drummer Dave, formerly of Discordance Axis and now of internet noisemongers Atomsmasher, keep up the breathtakingly fast rhythm. The band have been playing and touring long enough to perfect their art attack and show everyone else how rock music can still blast ecstatically into the future. They played mostly songs from their recent and best albums 'Charlie' and 'Teeny Shiny', and as usual did one of their legendary cover songs, this time a traditional Italian tune 'Tintarella di Luna'. The Liverpool gig was especially sweaty and chaotic, with Agata grabbing a table a few songs in to keep people from falling on his pedals. In Leeds and Liverpool, support bands John Holmes, Narcosis and Voorhees were of the angry hardcore variety. Dave likened John Holmes to Prong although they seemed slower. Manchester supports were experimental noisemongers Magic City and Triclops and the comedy laptop processed shouting swearing racket of Speedranch^Jansky Noise. Speedranch was gutted not to be able to hire a bouncy Castle for the occasion, so made do with jumping off the PA into the crowd where someone emptied a beer can over his head. If you're in France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland or Italy over the next two months or so, you might be able to catch Melt Banana before they go back to Japan. Check out the tour dates at www.splatterpromotion.com.