Union Chapel is a working church and an award winning venue. It’s also a centre for those homeless and in crisis in London. I’d never been to this particularly venue before. It’s a beautiful church and it was a wonderful, if unlikely, setting for two great acoustic shows on Thursday night. Therapy? are a band that I’ve been a fan of since the ’90s and I think they picked the perfect support band, The Virginmarys, for this gig. The bands have a similar hard rock/punk sound; both have lyrics that contain relevant social commentary and take inspiration from the darker side of human nature.
Ally Dickaty, lead singer of The Virginmarys, performed a half-hour solo acoustic show, playing tracks from the band’s albums. The church was quite full already when he took to the stage but he didn’t seem at all fazed by that. After greeting the audience with ‘Welcome to my church’, he launched into the first song, “Long Way Down From The Top”. Ally went on to play “For You My Love” from The Virginmarys’ latest album, Divides. He also played “Just a Ride”, “Lost Weekend”, “Free To Do Whatever They Say”, “Walk In My Shoes”, and “Motherless Land”.
Ally has a magnetic presence and powerful vocals. He sings with great passion and the lyrics to his songs are quite poignant and seem heartfelt. The crowd appeared mesmerised by the show, listening in silence, eyes glued to the lone figure on the stage. He is one of those musicians who puts his all into the performance, and as he sang each song it felt like he meant every word. It made for quite emotional viewing. I had to hold back the tears when he was singing “Walk In My Shoes”.
Ally said that The Virginmarys were fans of Therapy? and he grew up listening to the band’s music and was inspired by their songwriting. I can definitely hear the influence in their sound. The Virginmarys are one of the best new bands out there at the moment. The fact that their hard-hitting rock songs sound just as good when stripped back to acoustic is proof that they have something special going on.
Ally commented at the end of his show ‘More churches should do this.” Yes, they should. 🙂 The ambience was awesome and worked well with this acoustic show. It was a very original and enjoyable way to see a rock concert.
The Virginmarys are getting a lot of attention from the music press. Their album “Divides” has been nominated as Best Rock Album by Loudwire, alongside albums from Green Day, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Iggy Pop, and more. You can vote at the following link: http://loudwire.com/vote-best-rock-album-6th-annual-loudwire-music-awards/
You can catch Ally Dickaty on tour with his solo acoustic show this month, raising awareness of foodbanks. See my blog post for details: https://realrockandroll.wordpress.com/2016/11/22/people-help-the-people-ally-dickaty-the-virginmarys/, and check out Moshville Times for more information: http://www.moshville.co.uk/news/tours/2016/12/ally-dickaty-the-virginmarys-people-help-the-people-tour-various-uk-and-dublin-venues-december-2016/
The Virginmarys are supporting New Model Army at London’s O2 Forum on 15th December. Tickets: http://www.livenation.co.uk/show/832795/new-model-army/London/2016-12-15/en
If you have a chance to catch this band live, grab it, you won’t be disappointed!
Follow The Virginmarys:
The headliners for this Union Chapel show were Therapy?, a band that have been together now for over 25 years. They have a fantastic back catalogue of songs. I interviewed bassist Michael McKeegan back in 2014 when I was blogging for the UK Arts Directory. You can read that at the following link: https://realrockandroll.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/interview-with-michael-mckeegan-of-therapy/
Therapy? played for 1 hour and 45 minutes and it was an awesome performance. They are a band who are known for their hard and heavy songs, full of attitude, so I was interested to see how their songs would work in an acoustic setting. It worked beautifully. Somehow the church setting was a perfect backdrop for the music. It added to the emotion and drama of the performance.
The band engaged well with with the audience and there was a lot of audience participation; for example, Andy Cairns (singer) got the crowd involved in clapping all the way through a 2-minute song, and also got everyone to sing the riff to the band’s hit “Screamager” throughout the song. He also introduced the song “Living In The Shadow of a Terrible Thing” by referring to Donald Trump being elected as president. The crowd were then instructed to boo every time he mentioned Donald Trump’s name. 🙂
The band were joined on stage for a couple of the songs by a cellist, including for their haunting track “Diane”.
Despite being an acoustic stripped-back performance, it was high energy and by the end of the show the audience was standing and dancing/singing along to the songs.
I really enjoyed the gig. Therapy? are a band who know how to entertain. It was fun to hear some of the band’s stories about their years in the music business, and nice to hear Andy explain the inspiration behind some of the songs they played.
Therapy? are one of those must-see rock bands. They ended the show by saying “We are Therapy?, and we are therapy.” They are right about that! 🙂 This was an uplifting show and definitely one of my favourite gigs of 2016.
The Union Chapel show was the last in Therapy?’s Wood & Wire tour. Look out for more shows in 2017.