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Sonisphere 2014: Therapy?, The Bronx, Kerbdog

"Hello you fucking cunts. Let's fucking rock."

As introductions go, Cormac Battle’s first words onstage, delivered with a cheeky grin, are hard to beat. Newly recreated as a four-piece with the return of guitarist Billy Dalton, Kerbdog (8) look genuinely delighted to be playing their first UK festival show in over a decade, and the reception meted out to the Kilkenny quartet is warm and appreciative.

“I know it’s Sunday, and you’re all wrecked, but let’s go fucking mental,” says Battle, and the crowd respond appropriately. Focusing on tracks from 1997’s On The Turn album - one of the great ‘lost’ rock albums of the 1990s, without question - the quartet marry muscle and melody in equal measure on the likes of Severed, Mexican Wave, Pointless and a storming End Of Green, with Battle pronouncing the subsequent chants of “Kerbdog! Kerbdog!” “better than having sex!” Sally gets a circle pit swirling around in front of the stage, before the quartet sign off with a raucous JJ’s Song. With a live album imminent and talk of more besides, this ‘Dog might yet have its (long overdue) day.

The Bronx (8) are the best punk rock band in the world today, but a shabby sound means that the LA quintet initially struggle to gain traction, even with songs as incredible as History’s Stranglers and White Tar. This was never going to last for long. With Matt Caughthran in typically mischievous mood - “There’s so many good bands here,” he notes at one point, “You’ve got The Bronx, The Bronx, The Motherfucking Bronx…” - his band soon have the Bohemia tent eating out of their hands, and Knifeman, Around The Horn - dedicated to “all the motherfuckers who’ve been with us since day one” - and Heart Attack American simply destroy. For Shitty Future the singer disappears into the middle of the crowd and Sonisphere loses its shit. Which, frankly, is as it should be.

It’s only a few months ago since Therapy? (8) were touring in celebration of the 20th anniversary of their classic Troublegum album, but having already aired that album in full at Sonisphere in 2010, tonight they’re playing it’s older brother Infernal Love in full for the very first time. Given that the 1995 album is one of the Northern Irish trio’s most ‘challenging’ records, this could have been a tricky assignment, but with a partisan crowd behind them - enough bodies, in fact, that security are forced to close the tent before the start of Stories - Andy Cairns’ band storm it. The only problem with bands playing albums in full is that there can be no real surprises, but the sight of Cairns hunched over a keyboards for the first time on stage for a stirring Bowels Of Love is quite something and hearing the likes of A Moment Of Clarity and Me Vs You is a rare treat for hardcore fans.

Elsewhere, Loose - dedicated to all the Irish people present, and introduced by Cairns as being a song about “getting fucked up in Botanic Gardens, Belfast” - is the greatest pop-punk song not penned by Husker Du, while Therapy?’s take on that band’s stark Diane is dark, sombre and beautifully realised. The trio ‘encore’ (without actually leaving the stage) with a riotous romp through Potato Junkie - that classic “James Joyce is fucking my sister” lyric getting the proper singalong treatment - and, inevitably, a rampaging Screamager. And ending on Metallica’s Creeping Death riff is a touch of pure class. Nice work gentlemen.

Paul Brannigan
Paul Brannigan

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.