Whatever happened to Therapy? The Irish four piece never quite reached the heights that second album Troublegum suggested was possible.

Last year Therapy? Changed label to Ark 21 allowing themselves more freedom and released a new, back to basic album: Suicide Pact – You First. On tour with it across Europe the band eventually arrived in South Wales.

In front of the small but noisy, eager crowd in the Terminal, Therapy? Stride onto stage purposefully. The three guitarists take position ready for their assault: A row of tight black T shirts and tattoos on white arms punching devil signs in the air. Bright white lights and bright red lights shine down. “For those about to rock we salute you” they seem to forget to say.

Although all they want to be is punk metal, they seem a bit, well…normal to be proper stars: Squeezed into his black leather trousers, front-man Andy Cairns isn’t quite the lean dynamo of James Hetfield or Henry Rollins, but this isn’t a failing. Changing labels and generally growing up (Cairns became a father as the album was released) left them with a sound that is uncompromised, without having to “suck corporate American cock”, as Cairns so splendidly demonstrates half way through the concert.

Now and again their single-mindedness to be themselves seems a little naïve, but watching them pounding out song after song, punctuated with warm banter, you can’t deny that they understand and love the crowd. “These people are our friends”, Cairns explains to the amphetamine-fuelled security guards who are manhandling the crowd surfers. They even pull a guy from the front to play guitar with them for one song, luckily picking someone who could play with as much gusto as the real Therapy?

Throughout the night Therapy? Followed a simple formula: (1) Play aloud, catchy song (Going Nowhere, Die Laughing) or a loud heavy Song (Teethgrinder, Suicide Pact – You First). Perhaps swap your guitar for an electric cello. (2) Joke with the crowd and generally charm the pants off them, showing just how much of a good time you are having. (3) Repeat until everyone feels like they’re your best friend. And sure enough it works leaving you feeling that this is how all gigs should be.

This article first appeared in The Leek in 1999

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