Review: Therapy? Live At The Mandela Hall

10 12 2010

It almost goes without saying these days that Therapy? are a very special band for me, so without further ado, here’s a review of their 20th Anniversary home-coming show that ran in Fate Magazine last month. Pics by Mark Leetch (

Therapy? at the Mandela Hall, Belfast

In the grand scheme of things, Therapy?’s home-coming show is a big deal. No, scratch that. It’s a huge, Godzilla-sized event all things considered. You see the band are celebrating their 20th anniversary and this evening they’re treating fans to two sets (one “Best Of” and the other is a rare run through of their seminal album ‘Troublegum’) to prove once and for all that they really are the most important band that this country has ever produced (yeah you heard Snow Patrol…).

Kicking things off with their very first single ‘Meat Abstract,’ the trio go straight for the jugular, metaphorically decapitating heads with their inventive beats and berserker riffs. The ever so subtle ‘Die Like a Motherfucker’ is dedicated to David Cameron (we can’t think why….) and frontman Andy Cairns in particular looks like he’s in the form of his life as he belts out classic cuts from the last two decades that include a suitably twisted ‘Fantasy Bag,’ and a rare version of the spiky and paranoid ‘Epilepsy,’ while also dedicating the relatively new ‘Exiles’ to everyone from Northern Ireland.

Just over a 1000 bodies are squeezed into the venue tonight and it’s heartening to see such a turnout for a band that changed the face of music in the 90s and beyond. After bowing out with the one-two punch of ‘Teethgrinder’ and ‘Crooked Timber’ (which sound as nasty as Anne Widdecombe performing a striptease on Strictly Come Dancing by the way) they return for a performance of an album that changed not only this writer’s life, but generations of others too-‘Troublegum.’ And while the crowd go insane for the likes of ‘Knives’ and their mainstream smash hit single ‘Screamager,’ it’s the less heard album tracks that are the real treats in tonight’s show. ‘Hellbelly,’ and ‘Unbeliever’ are especially awe-inspiring as Andy tells his dark tells of isolation that he quips could very well be turned into “Ballyclare: The Musical. ‘Lunacy Booth’ is another gem and sees Cormac from the Answer sing guest vocals for the high notes (which were originally performed by Lesley Rankine fact fans) but the biggest surprise of the night has to be the stabbing ‘Unrequited’ with is as potent as it was when it first came out back in ’94.

After a heroic ‘Brainsaw’ the band return for an encore which sees local singer Robyn G. Shiels and Dutch Schultz’s Willy join in for a rowdy rendition of ‘Enjoy the Struggle’ before they say their farewells with ‘Innocent X’ and ‘Potato Junkie.’ As 20th birthday parties go, tonight’s show is up there with the best of them and proved without a shadow of a doubt that Therapy? really are national treasures. Happy anniversary lads.