[sic] Magazine

THERAPY? London Islington Academy 05 May 2009

In one way, Therapy? are at war with their audience. What a lot of the people here want is a band that popped out of existence in 1995, an abrasive pop act that held the mantle of Nirvana and had the potential to be as big as the Foo Fighters but chose instead of stay a little less obvious. At least two thirds of the audience only really seem that bothered when Therapy? open the can of old hits with a thrilling adrenaline-fuelled rush called “Stories”. And since a Therapy? gig is as much about the people off the stage as it is the people on the stage; it is then that perhaps the distilled essence of the band becomes apparent. A glorious, angry pop thrill that anyone of their ilk would be proud to produce. Therapy? are a band as inventive, important, and original as any critics lauded, obscure choice, half a perverse Beatles, the other half Slayer. Blayer, or perhaps The Sleatles.

Every band has what Neil Tennant calls their “Imperial Phase”: a brief period of absolute invincibility where everything they do is gold, every song is completely in tune with the times, and they can do no wrong. For some bands, this belief becomes an unfounded arrogance, and they still exist in their own halo of ego and perfection, prima donnas of whatever genre they live in : (and you can see this in the increasing irrelevance of certain bands). Others follow their own muse as they always did, their brief summer in the sun an aberration, a combination of natural elements to create a freak wave of popularity. Therapy? sit in this corner, a band who were once huge for no particular reason, and then continued on as they always were.


This determined artistic continuity is admirable. Some bands change to try and re-capture their fading popularity: and this is desperate and demeaning, reducing the music to a product. T? Are no such thing. These days they remind me very much of who they were 18 years ago, back when “Nurse” was barely an idea, when Therapy? were on the ascendant. In a way, Therapy are commercially treading water, making a good but not astounding living, playing to healthy crowds, doing this not because its a way to get rich but because it’s better than a day job. At the best, there still is a Therapy? there still is a band here, not a bunch of people who do this only because they can get rich, or famous, but a set of musicians who clearly enjoy it and have yet to tire – as everyone else here has – of the endless possibilities of guitars, drums, bass, and vocals. With these four colours, every piece of rock music has been made.

In support of latest record, the fabulous but barely noticed “Crooked Timber”, Therapy? are determinedly not a nostalgia act. Sure, there are old songs, and quite a lot of what you could describe as ‘Ver Hits’ (Screamager, Nowhere, Stories, Die Laughing, Turn, Potato Junkie are all present and correct), there are also some huge omissions. If you want Therapy? to be your own personal alt.metal jukebox, where’s Trigger Inside, Stop It You’re Killing Me, Accelerator, Innocent X, Nausea, Loose, Church Of Noise, and Hey Satan You Rock? Well, they’re on the records.


Luckily then, with twelve albums, Therapy are blessed with a surfeit of material: as many albums and classics as U2, and a lot less annoying. They open with “I Told You I Was Ill” and it’s a good forty minutes before they open up the old can of hits with “Turn”. (Perhaps it’s that “Turn” is so obviously a Bowie pastiche that I am reminded for some reason of the sorely underrated and rather brilliant Tin Machine). The whole of the new record is performed, including the wonderful “Exiles”, and the brilliant (but somewhat ponderous live) ten minute instrumental “Magic Mountain”. It’s during this one that I start to feel the limits of the crowd patience being tested, after all, by the time they finish the song it’s 10:39, and there’s only 21 minutes left until curfew.

Since some bands don’t split up, they can’t reform: a problem that has plagued Therapy? insomuch as public attention has never been diverted away from them, they’ve never been able to have a hugely successful absence, never been able to let their legacy grow. They’ve always been there, always working hard, touring nearly constantly (with bare brief breaks when drummers jump ship). Once, in the summer of Britpop, they were on the cusp on enormity, but this never transpired. They never had a fallow period, an era of trudging along through habit, instead Therapy? were always kindred spirits with bands like Shellac and PiL, literate, honest, hard music for people who demand more.

Magic Mountain

Therapy? prevail. They are what they have always been and what they always be: a fiercely passionate crossbreed of metal and indie, a beautiful chaos, that endures. The roar that I hear in my head and in the world around me is reflected here, a mirror of confrontation against an ugly and hard world. Never apologise, never explain: just walk the crooked mile and fight against the crooked world.

Or something.

I Told You I Was Ill
Enjoy The Struggle
Clowns Galore
Bad Excuse For Daylight
If It Kills Me
Summer of Hate
Potato Junkie
The Head That Tried To Strangle Itself
Blacken The Page
Crooked Timber
Magic Mountain
Die Laughing
Nowhere Man (Segway)
Going Nowhere



Crooked Timber

For more from Mark please visit The Mark Reed website