Monday, 7 April 2014

THERAPY? Nottingham

Live at Nottingham Rock City  

Saturday April 5th 2014 

'Just why are they so good'? is a question that came my way the morning after the night before, as we were picking over the bones of this tremendous landmark Therapy? gig at Rock City. It's a question i've been mulling over now ever since, because this performance by Therapy? was way up there with their best ever. Incredible for a band that have been-there-done-that for a quarter of a century, and are as far from living on their past merits or relying on 'the good times' as any band could be. Ironically,  we are here to celebrate their most successful and commercial album release in 'Troublegum' which marks its twentieth anniversary with a re-release and short tour, calling in at Nottingham's Rock City this Saturday night. Nothing quite like an album anniversary to ask where has the time gone, eh?
But in that time, this band have been continuously releasing records and playing live all over the world. In an attempt to find some kind of answer to that posed question,and without over-gushing about a band so close to one's heart, I muttered some rubbish along the lines of  'because they know exactly what they're doing, they've done it very well for many years and continue to inspire and move forward'. Yet there's so much more to Therapy? than this - as this gig well proved. 

It would be pointless recounting the times our paths have crossed. A: because it really is too many to count, and B: our encounters have been ongoing and geograhically all over the place since around 1990! I can think of many bands that have gone their separate ways only to reform on the back of some new wave or give in to financial pressures of a lucrative return. In short, it's never quite the same the second time around, and too often it leads to massive disappointment. Yet Therapy?, despite some dark periods in their career, have not only maintained their band relationships, not only kept pushing the bar higher with each release, they've only improved with time and no, not like a fine wine. Therapy? are that favourite tipple that has stood the test of time...the one you keep going back for again and again despite the temptation of something new behind the bar. 

Playing Troublegum in its entirety, they don't roll back the years, more reciprocate those that followed from its 1994 release. 'Die Laughing' gets a timely dedication to the late Kurt Cobain, along with Amy Winehouse, Phil Lynott and Tony Benn. Never missing a political trick or opportunity to stick it to the Tories, frontman Andy Cairns delights in dedicating Stop It, You're Killing Me to our smug-faced 'leader' David Cameron tonight. From start to finish there's no poor song to be had here, such is the quality of Cairns songwriting and the bands song structures. Twenty years on it seems more significant than ever, each track played as equally intensely by the perma-grinning Michael McKeegan on bass as they were two decades ago. The brilliance of sticksman Neil Cooper cementing the heavy hitting songs together just like original drummer Fyfe Ewing had done in composing them. 'Trigger Inside' and 'Turn' in particular delight the not-so-young-anymore-but-who-cares fraternity down the front. I wonder how many were also here in 1992, Therapy?s Rock City cherry popper? I'd guess a good proportion of them. For the newcomers to the world of Therapy?, yes they do go back that far... and then some. They've been the UKs triumphant noise-makers through the Nirvana years, supporting fellow U.S. rock bands like Cop Shoot Cop and Hole. Been the necessary alternative metal act in a mid-nineties Brit-Pop explosion, and continued to plough on regardless of what else came along, dragging their never depleating fanbase with them.


Why are they so good then? Well, their infectious live play has a knock on effect into whatever sized crowd lies before them, who in turn feed that back again to the stage and so on and so on. Possibly above all else, Therapy? themselves are huge fans of music which has always been evident in their records and gigs. Obviously Joy Division's 'Isolation' causes a stir during the Troublegum set and you can just about guarantee another cover or two at a Therapy? live gig. With Andy Cairns love of back to basics punk rock and Michael McKeegan's dark rock appreciation, this band can put a twist on anything they care to put their hands to. During the rousing finale of 'Potato Junkie', the song breaks for some of  Stooges 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' and love it or not Judas Priest's 'Breaking The Law' gets an airing towards the end. Other than the crowd-pleasing favourite and magnificent track of 'Teethgrinder', the remainder of the set consists of some rather more obscure Therapy? songs from this Troublegum era. Tracks taken from both the Shortsharpshock EP and Face The Strange are out in force. And for the real diehards 'Opal Mantra' from mini album 'Hats Off To The Insane' and Infernal Love's 'Misery'. These live rarities provide the crowd time to reflect rather than be whisked along by usual Therapy? classics Punishment Kiss or Innocent X which although sadly missing from tonight, leave room for these lesser played songs to be dusted off.

Genuine in their appreciation of the crowd's part in all this tonight, the band thank us time and time again for turning out. Yet it's most definitley us that are thanking Therapy? for being so consistent, necessary and present in our own individual worlds. Where many bands fail, or burn bright short lives, Therapy? have conquered this thing we call rock music for twenty five years now and have never appeared to be more at the top of their game. Fan-fuckin-tastic lads. 

- Pete Jackson