London WC2 talk Of London

Live, they're an angrier [a]Green Day[/a] without the rubbish humour, a leaner [a]Wildhearts[/a] with choruses...

Any minute now, the fireworks and dancing girls should appear. They never do, but such a finale wouldn’t be out of place. For this special Christmas THERAPY? visit is as slick – and occasionally as embarrassing – as the annual panto.

ANDY CAIRNS and bassist MICHAEL MCKEEGAN certainly have their act well-rehearsed. We get orchestrated crowd clapping (“To the left!” “To the right!”); the house lights for a crowd singalong and a request to applaud support band, GROOP DOGDRILL, for “coming all the way from Rotherham”. And, of course, there’s the obligatory introduction to each band member. Which may convince you that Therapy? are nice blokes but doesn’t prevent a sky-high cringe factor.

The contradictions don’t end there. On record, Therapy? are the menacing full-throttle Dark Princes of a million misunderstood teenagers’ dreams. Live, they’re an angrier GREEN DAY without the rubbish humour, a leaner WILDHEARTS with choruses.

The nasty pop edge of ‘Screamager’, ‘Loose’ and ‘Nowhere’ still impress; particularly as Therapy?‘s more recent material reverts to furious noise and a veil of doom to hide shortcomings on the tune front. New song ‘Kiss Me On The Ghost Train’ is more brawn than brain, while ‘Church Of Noise’ is a stodgy metal racket.

“We may have funny hair and funny moustaches but we’ve made some fucking brilliant records,” Andy announces. He’s not entirely wrong. But however well-intended, these shiny surfaces are hollow underneath.