The street outside the Electric Ballroom, in Camden Town, looked like the tail end of a failed street party - aimless young men, right hands cupping cans of lager, being buffeted by the backpacks of the Scandinavian girls they were ogling.

And inside it was much the same, only with more young men, more Scandinavian girls and far, far more lager.

This was Therapy?'s first headline gig in London for three years. Their last, at the Brixton Academy, was famously supported by a night of street riots. Tonight's support, Groop DogDrill, tried their best to measure up to their forebears. Throwing beer around like Ozzy Osbourne throws water, the bassist must have spilt some on his trousers, since he rounded off the act by whipping them off.

Therapy? kept their trousers on, playing a confident show from a simple set, beginning with "Nausea" and "Knives", and finishing strongly with "Lonely, Cryin' Only" and "The Boy's Asleep" from the Semi-Detached album.

For someone who has described himself as a diffident lyricist, frontman Andy Cairns is anything but in the spoken word, some of his bursts of banter between songs working like three-minute singles in themselves. Playing "Stories" from the Infernal Love album, they stressed the lyric that "Happy people have no stories".

However, nowadays Therapy? have stories and happiness both, and Cairns was proud to bellow, in preface to the recent single "Church of Noise" but applicable to the whole set: "This is our story!" Whether the state of Camden's youth is down to torpor or stupor, Therapy? were an effective cure.

Nick Fearn

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