Therapy? @ O2 Academy 2, Birmingham – 23 November 2012

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Review by Sophie Maughan and photos by Russ Tierney

Well folks, this particular scribe is a tad chuffed to say the least, to be here tonight in the dark bowel – like confines of Academy 2. Birmingham just happens to be the first calling point of Northern Ireland’s finest export- a rather smashing act who you might have heard of. Oh yes. The mighty Therapy? Formed back in 1989 and with a whole host of prestigious awards, tours with many a rock / metal demigod (Deftones and Ozzy Osbourne to name but a few) and a whopping 13 studio albums under their belts, the band are here as part of the Emma Scott Presents promotional odyssey. The new album in question, entitled A Brief Crack Of Light was released back in February so the chances are that we can expect a singalong or ten.

As 8.30 pm rolls quickly around, the PA booms into life and like a gift from the gods, the boys emerge on stage to some rapturous applause. And looking sharp in matching suits to boot. Okay, the lighting is a bit shite, the mics sound like they need to be turned down and there is an unmistakable odour of manure but by god, the trio do not disappoint. Frontman Andy Cairns is on top form vocally and he immediately engages the crowd from the get go, ordering everyone to “Get ’em up!!” Cue a sea of hands as the Academy goes suitably batshit crazy to blistering set opener ‘Isolation’ from 1994’s opus Troublegum. A nearby female fan proceeds to throw herself around and dance wildly on her own. In a circle. In a cagoule. She’s clearly off her tits but it is nevertheless, a joyful and bizarre moment. ‘Nausea’ follows suit before Cairns dedicates ‘Why Turbulence’ (the first of many from the new album) to “the people of Northern Ireland”. Judging by the volume of the response, there are a fair few from the motherland in attendance. Eardrums are pierced and several hundred throats are ripped open when the all too familiar riff of ‘Teethgrinder’ blasts out and it incites the assembled throng whipping us into a state of frenzy. The energy and showmanship that these guys have in a live capacity is truly impressive and is undoubtedly a result of twenty plus years of hard graft and constant performing. There is never a lull or dull moment during the ninety minute set with drummer Neil Cooper never missing a roll, snare or kick and bassist / backing vocalist Michael McKeegan grinding and holding that axe aloft like a true boss.

Given the longevity of this band’s career, it is refreshing to witness just how self- deprecating and humble they have remained. There’s a real sense of intimacy and both Andy and Michael are constantly thanking the crowd for their appreciation. We were promised a delectable mix of both old faves and new material and with ‘Misery’, ‘Get Your Hand Off My Dead Shoulder’ and ‘Stories’ all in quick succession, Therapy? fucking deliver. ‘Living in the Shadow of the Terrible Thing’ and ‘Before You, After You, With You’ sound particularly epic and with an encore chock full of hits, tonight has been nothing short of a triumph. Stellar. Here’s to another thirteen albums.

And you can see more shots from the show here: