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Therapy? + Lonely the Brave @ Wulfrun, Wolverhampton Civic, UK – Friday 4th April 2014

Here at Gig Junkies we’re busy, busy, busy and this weekend is the first of three over three days for this little team – as we cover bands from across the UK. First gig of the weekend comes from the Emerald Isles courtesy of a Northern Irish alternative metal band, who according to their website have been ‘helping the afflicted since 1990.’ They are here to bring us their most successful and very possibly legendary album, celebrating it’s twentieth anniversary release – ‘Troublegum’ – we, the afflicted are here for a bit of Therapy?

Therapy? hail from Larne in Northern Ireland. Formed in ’89, line-up consists of guitarist and lead singer Andy Cairns, bass player Michael ‘Evil Priest’ McKeegan and thundergod Neil Cooper. While Therapy? may no longer touch the commercial world of the charts these days – they’ve continued to record and tour on a regular basis and throughout their career have sold over 2 million albums. Inspired by metal stalwarts Metallica – it was ’93’s ‘Shortsharpshock’ EP which brought Therapy? to our attention. The following year came ‘Troublegum’. Award winning, it’s 20 and to celebrate comes this UK mini tour along with the prerequisite reissues.  As for the ? In their name. A design quirk – a space filler when Cairns was Letrasetting (back in the days when artwork was done by hand) the band’s first record sleeve.

So for tonight’s gig we’re promised the album in full with additional smatterings of ‘B’ Sides and songs from their early EPs: ‘Shortsharpshock’, ‘Face the Strange’ and ‘Opal Mantra’.

Support tonight comes from Lonely The Brave. Hailing from Cambridge, they are “…four men trying to be someone…” These four men being Gavin Edgeley (drums), Mark Trotter (guitar), Andrew Bushen (bass) and David Jakes (who sings). Rock Sound believe they could be the biggest band on the planet, the NME say their name will be up in lights, whether they like it or not. Kerrang! think they’re phenomenal. No pressure then. The tour PR have told us to take a look they’re so good. So here we are early and waiting with eager anticipation. LTB are polite, but musically are metal with rising, rhythmic melodies – there is indeed something fresh about them – something different. Energetic, powerful, indie metal, singer Jakes has an uncomfortable edge about him, singing sideways from the audience – hands clasped in front of him. For the audience who knew little to start of with buy the end of their set – they get a good response – there is definitely something addictive here – and worth checking out their album and seeing them live if you get the opportunity. These new upstarts have a new album ‘The Days War’ due out on 2nd June 2014 and are supporting Therapy? throughout this mini-tour.

Tonight’s Wulfrun Hall is getting pretty full, a lot of metal-heads are here – T-shirts a-blazed with Judas Priest, Van Halen, Machine Head, NIN. The set is well lit – with a simple vinyl backdrop of the Therapy? logo – large and obvious and in your face. Big cheer as the lights go down, as a voice gives a long introduction…. “…this is Therapy?”

To violins as the guys take up their instrument, and we’re off – loud and bangy – metal in full flow – it’s ‘Knives’ which receives a huge cheer. Then get frenetic, run like a million miles an hour – shout: “I’ve got nothing to do but get screwed up on you…” – ‘Screamager’.

“Hello Wolverhampton”. This Northern Irish Men in Black make a HELL OF A LOT OF NOISE sound for just three of them. And they are clearing enjoying it – McKeegan spins in circles – as he delivers ‘Hellbelly.’ – “F***ing brilliant Wolverhampton – lovely to be back – we do appreciate it….” he tells the equally appreciative crowd. “Let’s make some f***ing noise tonight…” as the punters are encouraged to clap – ‘Stop It You’re Killing Me’ before the with the Pistol’s ‘Pretty Vacant’ inspired intro – we’re into ‘Nowhere.’

A brief interlude to catch our breath, Cairns acknowledges Kurt Cobain (who killed himself 20 years ago today), legendary Thin Lizzie vocalist Phil Lynott, and the maverick statesman and MP Tony Benn – as we ‘Die Laughing’:  “I think I’m going insane, I can’t remember my own name…” and as the song completes the crowd chant back – “Can’t remember…..can’t remember…. can’t remember…”

An intro to the ‘Evil Priest’ (aka McKeegan) as we cross our arms in the air to acknowledge THE ONE, as we continue our journey through the album with ‘Unbeliever’. Cairns asks if anyone was here in 1994 when the album was released. A few cheers go up and we’re frenetic once again: “Trigger Inside” which indeed is “… one in the eye for the beautiful people….”

For the next one we only need to sing one word – “Christ!” – which indeed we do – (and probably the rest of the lyrics) but we’re happy to should this one in particular, with venom and spleen – ‘Lunancy Booth’ – probably the best delivered track of the night.

‘Isolation’ we bounce: this is a great nostalgia trip for metal heads. It’s heavy and frenetic – and makes you remember what a class album ‘Troublegum’ was. ‘Turn’ delivers, ‘Femtex’ gets a intro to outlaw domestic violence: “Time to f***ing stop it..” with a derogatory comment about the Police. This is thrash Metallica inspired – almost ‘One’-like. This part of the set is completed with ‘Unrequited’ and ‘Chainsaw’ – what an album.

Quick break – the next part of the set gives us E.P.s and B-Sides – of ‘Evil Elvis’, ‘Misery’, ‘Opal Mantra’ and Priest’s ‘Breaking The Law….’

So what have we learnt from tonight’s metal gig. Lonely The Brave live up to the plaudits – and will be interesting to watch out for. Whether the Metal Gods with shine their little ray of light and give them the break, or whether they will do it the hard way – gig after gig after gig after gig (see Twin Atlantic for this recent journey) – only time will tell. Listen out in June – check out their album.

As for Therapy? When ‘Troublegum’ was released indie music had tuned cool (or uncool) depending on your point of view and given us Britpop, Seattle music kicked back against the mainstream and went cool (or uncool) and few bands toured as there was no money in it. There also was few decent sized venues in the Midlands  – around this time only the Civic was around.  As grunge grew then faded, and Cobain sadly demised  Therapy? issued ‘Troublegum.’ Angry, manic, 3 minute pop-twisted, metal inflicted classic. We’ve all brought albums (back in the day I guess) – and with most, there was always a couple of stand outs tracks – you got bored with the rest. ‘Troublegum’ gave us it all and then some from from start to finish – tonight everyone knew all the words, to EVERY song. Cheers Therapy? – you may not have conquered our affliction, maybe contributed to it – but you’ve certainly encouraged us to dig through the cobwebs and dust and find that album of your. Don’t stop it –  you’ve not killed us quite yet.

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Lonely The Brave Setlist
Black Saucers
Victory Line
Trick of the Light
Bass Start
Deserter
Backroads
Call of Horses

Therapy? Setlist:
Troublegum:
Knives
Screamager
Hellbelly
Stop It You’re Killing Me
Nowhere
Die Laughing
Unbeliever
Trigger Inside
Lunacy Booth
Isolation
Turn
Femtex
Unrequited
Brainsaw
[You Are By Sunshine]

B Sides, EPS and additional songs
Evil Elvis
Auto Surgery
Misery
Pantopon Rose
Totally Random Man
Speedball
Bloody Blue
Accelerator
Opal Mantra
Breaking The Law [Judas Priest]
Potato Junkie

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Review for Gig Junkies; Pictures by Ken Harrison.