Friday, April 02, 2010

Ba-da-bada-da, Ba-da-bada-da...

Kings Cross Monto Water Rats. 30mar10.

Several have come from overseas for this. There are Czechs here, Fins, Americans; all making the effort to experience three consecutive nights of Therapy? in the tiny back-room of a London boozer, as they record a live LP.

The band appear to be hedging their bets on what’s to be on the eventual album too, with each night featuring a radically different set-list. Although the big crowd pleasers like Screamager (see below) and Nowhere are ever-present, of course.

Many here have bought into all three gigs but I gambled on the middle one, slithering tactically between the potential for both ring-rustiness and demob happiness. A further element of risk was the chance that I’d miss them playing my particular favourite tune, Innocent X as well.

Thankfully, only the Monday punters missed out on that particular treat, and treat it was. The sound of the ‘heavy-breathing-down-the-phone-line’ sample that signals it appeared as the final note of If It Kills Me dissolved, and triggered the kind of giddy physical abandon that I had thought locked away in a teenage time capsule.

I guess coming to see Therapy? again after all these years is an exercise in nostalgia, given that I’ve not bought any of their albums since 1998’s Semi Detached. However a gig at the Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms last October reminded me just how thrilling they can be live.

Whilst it’s interesting to hear the new stuff played out, and some of it, such as Enjoy The Struggle and I Told You I Was Ill is pretty rigorous stuff, and as good as current drummer, former Cable thumper Neil Cooper, is, I’m not sure they ever recovered from the loss of Fyfe Ewing. His snare-snap, rave-beat drum style was what really made those early albums and EPs special, and on record nowadays it feels as though Therapy? are content with just being a solid 4K’s in Kerrang! rock band. There are certainly worse things to be.

Looking at the set-lists of songs chosen for recording live over the three nights would suggests though that, in their heart of hearts, core members Andy Cairns and Michael McKeegan might also feel that 1995’s Infernal Love whilst dripping in addiction to both cocaine and the sartorial combination of false moustaches and frilly shirts, was their last really good record, certainly in terms of ambition anyway.

Indeed, tonight’s stand out moments all date from the early-to-mid-90’s; the mashing of their Joy Division cover Isolation with Loose; ancient b-side Evil Elvis; the Babyteeth debut album combination of Innocent X and Skyward from 1991 and the always thrilling Teethgrinder, prefaced here by the audience being required to vocally supply the “ba-da-bada-da” kickstart riff.

There’s plenty of this audience participation littered throughout, all screaming our names at once to see if we can pick them out on the record being one, but they needn’t worry about the music hall gambits, the tunes selected are more than enough to send those of us here with eager anticipation to the record shops when the eventual live opus appears.



Blogger Ben said...

'I Told You I Was Ill' is a great (and typical Therapy?) song title. Agreed about Fyfe Ewing - that snare sound was so unmistakeably them. As for 'Infernal Love', I loved it when it came out but before too long it came to sound like what it is - a bloated and flawed album which veers too often from ambitious to pretentious but which still has a handful of good songs. The opening lines of 'Mother', incidentally, always come to me when I've got a bad hangover and step outside for the first time that day...

11:02 pm  
Blogger skif said...

Aye, a flawed beast, but their last 'beast' in my view. Perhaps Icarus did fly too close to the sun, but fair play to them for trying. Even if it was largely fuelled by the ol' marching powder.

At that stage of their career, every record they had done had sounded different (perhaps helped by the fact that 'Nurse' was produced so terribly) and I like those kind of itchy feet in a band.

Ever since then, I've not been convinced by their recorded output. It's seemed, to me, stodgy by comparison to the direction of 'Infernal Love' whatever its own shortcomings.

Still a great live band though - I did get a little over-giddy for 'Innocent X' I have to admit!

7:34 am  

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