As Andy Cairns and his gang troop onto the stage, resplendent in kilts (“Happy f**kin’ St Andrew’s Day!”), it’s a strange wash of nostalgia and tremulous excitement which mingles with the sweat and beer. The last few years have seen a regeneration of Therapy?’s crowd-pulling powers: their last Glasgow gig was £5; this was close to £18. Watching them up there is like being back at school, moshing to Troublegum in the Common Room whilst skiving PE.
To the skeptics amongst us, it may seem slightly pointless when bands like Therapy? continue to drag themselves round the tour circuit almost two decades after their biggest selling album was released. Yet tonight there is no schadenfreude – this is a room of genuine fans. Their last album A Brief Crack of Light was released in 2012 and sees a return to form, generating this revisiting of their catalogued triumphs.
Coming onstage to a bone-crunching backing track, bass attempting to tear me new eardrums, the energy these guys display is unbelievable. Granted they sag a little in the middle, but physically and mentally they seem more buoyant than ever. The Garage is filled with paunchy middle-aged men, few women, and a distinct sense of fun, stirred up by a mix of classic and new tracks, performed at breakneck speeds.
On drums, replacing Fife Ewing in 2004, is Neil Cooper, whose decision to mimic Ewing’s distinctive piccolo snare is a good one. Everything sounds turned up, and the crowd respond enthusiastically, particularly to Cairns’ constant attempts at ingratiation (how many times can he say “Glasgow” in this set?). Bass player Mike McKeegan is a strange parody of himself, but the sheer unadulterated passion which he pours over every track is worth our presence in itself.
They rip through ‘Turn’, Cairns sounding as strong as ever, plough on to ‘Teethgrinder’ and crash-land in the amusingly titles ‘Get Your Dead Hand Off My Shoulder’. ‘Die Laughing’ forces me to dance and scream the lyrics as if I’m 17 again, and a thrashy version of ‘Nausea’ is great. They also offer a number of covers, from The Misfits’ ‘Where Eagles Dare’, to The Skids’ classic tale of working class battles, ‘Into The Valley’, plus Joy Division’s ‘Isolation’ slipping in, too. An unusual choice of final track, ‘Polar Bear’, finishes their six-song encore.
On Andy Cairns’ advice, we buy a t-shirt (the classic 1992 ‘Pleasure Death’, of course) and as we squeeze the sweat from our clothes, I’m left with a feeling of skewed déjà vu. I remind myself I’m not a teenager any longer, and slope off home, but know these guys will be up all night preparing for world domination.