THERAPY? London Scala 01 April 2015
Welcome To The Church Of Disquiet.
23 years is a long time to be doing anything. Long enough to find your place, and to gain roots. Long enough to perfect your craft. Long enough to build an artistic vision, and to fulfill it. Long enough to gain a hardcore following, even if that isn't particularly huge, and long enough to become another, great band. By rights – and by the view I have – Therapy? Should be enormous. Playing venues at least ten times the size – because, amongst many other things, their songs are ten times better than many of their peers. Whenever any PR person says it's a thematic sequel to a past glory, it bothers me. Their – oh, I don't know how many now, let's say it's fourteen – fourteenth album “Disquiet” is amongst their best ; but not their most popular. It calls back to the jarring tempos and loud/quiet/VERYLOUD formulas that characterise their sound, it brings us the beautifully noisy grinding rhythms and buzzsaw guitars, and the human lyrics matched with righteous fury I have come to expect. Opening with “Still Hurts”, Therapy? Stamp their position clearly. Unchanging, like rock itself, not weathered, and of uncompromising vision as one would expect. It's a quiet crowd, respectfully waiting through the newer material – most of it barely two weeks old – livening up only when the band delve into their deep vein of older stuff.
What is frustrating is perhaps that Therapy? Have the same core of 10 or 12 old songs which are played at every show and never seem to change – they are great songs, but much like U2, and many other classic acts, there's an expectation, and a demand, that the band – like any band, like any live show – have to walk the line between being a walking museum of music, and a living, breathing, active entity that is always seeking out new life, and new world, boldly going where no one has gone before. And, at the same time, what about the songs they didn't play? As is often the case, the newer old stuff – such as “Little Tongue First”, “Church Of Noise”, Living In The Shadow Of The Terrible Thing” (and, in fact, there is just one song from Suicide Pact, Shameless, High Anxiety, Never Apologise Never Explain, One Cure Fits All, Crooked Timber, and A Brief Crack of Light) – remain unaired. I know. Some bands genuinely have an enormous quality fall as they become older, as they become set in their ways, as they mine the laws of diminishing returns and frank their way to desperation : bands I can name such Echo & The Bunnymen, and The Pixies, whose post-reunion music is at best, the sound of rote repetition and redundancy, the mindless ramming of muscle into music without purpose. Therapy? Have never sucummbed to this phase, and whilst some bands have and then recovered themselves back to a making music that, at least, sounded like they were interested in it even if no-one else was (such as REM's lifeless “Around The Sun”), a great band grows older, and does so in a way that demonstrates, the how, the why, the eternal questions, who am I? How do I fit in this world? Where do we go next? There's no need to stop asking questions just because you have some of the answers. It's when you think you know everything that it comes apparent that you know nothing.
So, when they slam into “Isolation”, “Die Laughing”, “Turn”, “Stories”, “Nowhere”, “Teethgrinder”, “Potato Junkie”, the crowd come alive. The songs aren't played better or worse, and with the stable line up of Andy Cairns and Michael McKeegan from the bands birth, alongside 'new boy' drummer Neil Cooper who has 12 years under his belt, Therapy? Are clearly a band – a group – a cohesive unit of people who make a glorious cacophony together. The newer stuff sits just as well with any of the old material, unfamiliar, yet not unworthy, with about half of the set coming from “Disquiet”. Most of it sits well, melodic, yet jarring, particularly “Deathstimate” which reminds me, in its crushing slow tempo, length, and subject matter of the best of Metallica's 1996 “Load”/”Reload” period. Being only the second show of the tour, the band have yet to find an exact place for each song that sits particularly well amongst the rest – and debut both “Words Fail Me”, and, for the first time since late 1992, “Skinning Pit”. There isn't really such a thing as a bad Therapy? Song. Well, OK, some of the early 90's b-sides when the band released more songs than they had might have been less than perfect – but every Therapy? Album works as a contained entity, a universe of sound, a church of noise, a place where a story is told, a snapshot of one year, a moment in the world – and this si one of the things that people miss about artists as they get older, as the world changes and they change, and not always changing the same way, where the relationship to the world alters, in much the same way as Richard Linklater's “Boyhood”, a series of contemporary views on a world that become historical. What was it like to be that age, in this time? That's what people miss in bands when they stop being open to the new experiences. When you stop being open to the new, you become old very quickly. May the brief crack of light burn so very very brightly, for Therapy? Are a greater band that either their popularity, or the noise of the media, affords them.
Torment Sorrow Misery Strife
A Moment of Clarity
Good News Is No News
Words Fail Me
Vulgar Display of Powder