Calling a new album a return to form often sounds like damning with faint praise.
But when that album, Disquiet, constitutes a large chunk of Therapy?’s new tour setlist, it certainly demonstrates great faith in the material.
And on this evidence it would be hard to disagree with the punk-metallers’ decision to lean on Disquiet so heavily.
Over the course of around two dozen songs the Irish trio (augmented tonight by a sometime second guitarist and extra vocalist, lurking in the background) ignore large chunks of their 14 album back catalogue in favour of playing the majority of the new album and tracks from their commercial peak some two decades back.
But when Disquiet is a conscious nod back to Troublegum, which marked its 20th anniversary last year, it makes sense.
They kick things off with recent single Still Hurts before slamming into their cover of Joy Division’s Isolation, which they almost manage to make sound celebratory. Almost.
It’s a 90 minute set packed with buzzsaw guitars from frontman Andy Cairns, while bassist Michael McKeegan is rarely still, either bouncing around or entreating the audience to clap along. New tracks such as Good News Is No News and Tides slot in nicely alongside Troublegum-era classics such as Turn, Die Laughing and the indie-disco staple Screamager. Teethgrinder from ’92’s Nurse inspires a moshpit-meltdown.
Cairns may be suffering from ‘Montezuma’s revenge’, as he puts it, but there’s no let up in the frantic pace.
The subject matter may be ostensibly depressing, from death and rape to suicide and alienation, but with a moshpit in full effect for most of the set, it is also incredibly cathartic.
Even their cover of Husker Du’s murder ballad, Diane, which closes the main set, is transformed into a singalong.
Disquiet producer Tom Dalgety joins the band to add guitars on the first of the encores, that album’s epic closer Deathstimate. Its slower, grinding pace allows a breather before two tracks from their second ever EP, Pleasure Death – the rarely played Skinning Pit, and the gleefully obscene Potato Junkie, with a chorus too rude to repeat here.
The encores finish with another Troublegum single, Nowhere, and rarely has nihilism been so much fun, or had as wide a smile on its face.