Therapy? is not only touring behind a great, heavy scorcher of a new album, it is also celebrating twenty-five years of Troublegum so the audience that has packed itself into that great little venue knows they are in for a great setlist. The trio from Northern Ireland walked onstage to the tune of Metallica's "For Whom The Bell Tolls" and that right there is an indication of how rabid, frantic and just plain fucking heavy the set was going to be.
Therapy? is a punk band at heart, but unlike most other punks bands they have an affinity for hard rock, in fact some of their riffs and melodies are straight up heavy metal. Their audience is also a healthy mix of punks and headbangers.
They opened the set with their ferocious new single Wreck It Like Beckett and the intensity never let down from there, even when they had to stop the show a couple of times because of technical problems or because of some asshole in the audience got caught pickpocketing...
They played for about two hours during which they visited every album from their discography (with an emphasis on the new one and of course the birthday boy) and also played a few choice covers like Joy Division's Isolation, Hüsker Dü's Diane in a version closer to the original than their nineties single and Ever Fallen In Love With Someone You Shouldn't Have Fallen In Love With, as a tribute to recently deceased Pete Shelley of the Buzzcocks.
Their own material stands proudly next to those classics, with fan favorites like Nowhere, Screamager, Die Laughing, A Moment of Clarity, Teethgrinder and great new songs like Kakistocracy or Crutch.
It was drummer Neil Cooper's birthday and Andy Cairns led us in a chant to celebrate, adding to the good-natured spirit of the gig.* Their songs may be heavy and their lyrics may be angry, but the boys are no posers, they don't act like tough guys, they don't play the role of permanently angry punks. They are genuine good dudes, happy to be here, rocking with their fans, smiling, joking and appreciating the energy that the crowd gives them. And they give it back to us ten fold.
But don't be fooled by their affable demeanour: Therapy? do not fuck around. They play hard, they play fast, they play heavy, and they play well. Their catalogue is full of fantastic songs with gnarly riffs and great hooks, and they deliver them with honesty, sincerity, and generosity. A brilliant, rocking gig in a cool venue full of beer and sweat. There's a name for that: rock and roll.
* I have since been made aware that it wasn't really his birthday, and that this was just a bit that they do at every gig. Thanks a lot for making a fool out of me!