Engine Rooms, Southampton


OK, so it’s that time of year again when Ireland’s finest head out on a Winter tour. With an album’s worth of new material to plug they have pulled a decent sized crowd to Southampton Engine Rooms. Opening for them are fellow label mates King Creature, who play a brand of old skool Rock that is quite different from the headliner. They open with “Wrath” and set out their stall early. They are loud from the outset and garner decent early applause. There are some notable influences early on although they have enough about them to call their own. Jack’s (drums) hitting is huge throughout while Dave (guitar) is chief shape-shifter throughout. “Lowlife” follows as Dave (bass/lead vox) starts to open up and let go. His vocal is confident and early on he encourages crowd interaction. “World of Sin” takes the power up a notch or two and is an early highlight. Dave’s vocals are throaty in places but not unpleasant. Matt (guitar/b vox) starts to noodle a little in the bridge(s) and is equally comfortable to Dave’s left. “King for a Day” is not a Green Day cover as they continue to encourage this crowd to sing along.

There’s hints of irony peppered within these six songs and dare I suggest one or two Rock clichés, but these guys seem totally at home on a big stage playing to someone else’s crowd. Penultimate track “Money” precedes “Power”, and while I can’t make out the lyrics I’m guessing they’re written from the same viewpoint? Admittedly this isn’t my favourite strain of the genre but there really is nothing to criticize about King Creature. Strong vocals, confident musicianship and stagecraft and on tonight’s evidence a clutch of decent songs. They leave to good applause and I wish them well.

And so to the headliner. With a new album’s worth of material to plug Therapy? take to the stage at 9pm sharp. After the initial introductions, Andy (Cairns) announces that tonight’s show will contain a large proportion of songs from their latest LP “Cleave” and a selection culled from their history. What better way to start then than with LP opener “Wreck it, like Beckett”. Andy’s vocal is clear & audible from the outset – despite the sheer volume in this room tonight. “Kakistocracy” follows before they head back in time with a brilliant “Die Laughing”. Tonight’s crowd are well up for it and the first movement down the front begins. “A note perfect” Lonely Cryin’ Only keeps them moving as they dart from old to new within their set. “Turn” embraces the first big singalong before Andy passionately talks about mental health (among other topics), leading perfectly onto recent single “Callow”. Michael (bass/vox) seems to be smiling throughout while Birthday boy Neil (drums) is keeping a ferocious beat. Andy makes no secret of Neil’s Birthday and openly encourages us to help him celebrate after the show. “Opal Mantra” sounds as it did all those years ago while “Save Me From the Ordinary” is simply a prelude to a rampant “Diane” – Andy exclaims ‘we’re gonna do this like Husker Du tonight”. As we reach the second half of the set they bring out the big guns.

“Trigger Inside” keeps up the momentum and crowd movement while “I Stand Alone” precedes crowd fave “Screamager”. Again Andy takes centre stage with between-song banter and chat – “we’re nearly at 30 years in this business”, he decries, “but without you we are nothing”. Again the “hidden ill” of mental health/depression is passionately discussed before they hit us with a rampant “Teethgrinder”. The now familiar crowd routine/mass singalong to “Potato Junkie” is in full swing, peppered with a detour into “Raining Blood” (Slayer). Therapy fans young and old will never tire of this part of the show, myself included. Staying in Troublegum territory “Stop it, You’re Killing Me” is another good excuse for a singalong and promptly wraps up the main set. With only an hour or so gone, they were never gonna just leave it there.

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“Unbeliever” keeps the headbangers happy while ‘Misery’ allows Andy one more sojourn into the difficult subject of mental health. “Crutch” slows things down for the last time before three biggies take us to the show’s conclusion. “Stories” is electric while ‘Nowhere’ receives the usual frenzied reaction in the pit. Judas Priest’s “Breaking the Law” at some point gets the Therapy mash-up during the encore, but I’m now so overcome with emotion I can’t remember where?! Penultimate song of the show “Knives” is an anthemically bellowed back at the band from this now excited audience. For the finale, Andy once again reiterates the line “without you we are nothing, and as long as you keep coming we’ll keep at it” – poignant but true. Rather aptly they leave us with “Success, Success is Survival” – never a truer statement.

Where Therapy? stand apart from the crowd is their continued success at pushing boundaries. Never a band to stand still and re-hash past glories they have once again produced a great, original album in Cleave. Their live shows and ability cannot be questioned – as tonight’s audience size will attest to. And while other bands of a similar vintage and level of success inflate ticket prices, Therapy? have always maintained a steady ticket price policy. With that 30 year Anniversary just around the corner, one wonders what they will come up with next? I doubt it will be the bog standard “singles tour”. Recently signing to Marshall has clearly done them no harm and this is one of their biggest tour schedules to date. If there’s still fire in their bellies then the future can only be bright. And if success is to be measured by survival, then they have been successful. Long may that continue.

Set Lists
King Creature
World of Sin
King for a Day

Wreck it Like Beckett
Die Laughing
Lonely, Cryin’, Only
Opal Mantra
Save Me from the Ordinary
Diane (Hüsker Dü cover)
Trigger Inside
I Stand Alone
Potato Junkie
Stop It You’re Killing Me

Success? Success Is Survival


Words by Ross A. Ferrone
Pictures by Robert Whetton

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