Troublegum was one of my favourite albums as a teenager, so it was good to see the band still going strong. Weirdly, I’ve played football with drummer Neil, too…

Date: Octover 29, 2009

Venue: Rescue Rooms

There’s plenty of life left in these old metal dogs yet. Despite reaching their career zenith way back in 1994 with their much-lauded album Troublegum, frontman and founder Andy Cairns has steered the ship through turbulent post-Nirvana waters, crashed onto nu-metal’s desolate shores and now – when many a naysayer thought they’d been sunk by a wave of apathy – they’ve emerged Kraken-like from the depths of metal’s dark backwaters to remind us all why we fell for them in the first place.

The line-up has had a few alterations down the years, but permanent leading force Cairns – an extremely affable axe-wielding frontman who rubs against the grain of metal’s typically aloof gloom-mongers – has put together a line-up of proficient comrades, ready to take the band confidently into their 20th anniversary next year.

The crowd may have expected the set to be heavy with tracks from their latest record, Crooked Timber. But, to the delight of everyone, it’s a varied set, dipping into the majority of their myriad albums and pulling out real gems from their rather ace arsenal of songs.

That’s not to say that their new record isn’t any good, because it’s a grumbling beast full of grit and Cairns’ adroit tunesmithery. Clowns Galore, one of said album’s many highlights, sounds like a filthy Hüsker Dü track and turns the throng into a tangled mess of flailing arms and rock ‘n’ roll gurns.

Elsewhere, Teethgrinder is rather apt, seeing as it rattles the enamel from your teeth thanks to its chugging bass and pummeling drumming, while their cover of Joy Division’s Isolation grumbles with pent-up angst.

Cairns is an appreciative man, engaging with his devotees and forever thanking Nottingham for having them. It’s this interaction with and appreciation of his fans which has kept the band going solid for 19 years. Post-Troublegum, they never quite reached the commercial dizzy heights they enjoyed with that record, and slipped too far beneath the mainstream’s radar. If it wasn’t for their devoted fanbase wafting the dying embers they’d have never gotten past the 10 year mark.

So, maybe as thanks for the fans’ continued support, the Troublegum era’s fan favourites Knives, Screamager and Nowhere are saved for the encore, and are all delivered with the same grinding forcefulness which etched them into metal’s bedpost all those years ago.

Raw, urgent and feral, Therapy? are still capable of delivering a performance which defiantly answers anyone who dares to question their presence in modern rock music.


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