Sum 41 with The Scratch at Fairview Park, Dublin, on Wednesday, 19th June, 2024

It’s the latter half of June in Dublin, 2024. A blonde North American musician wielding an acoustic guitar looks over an impassioned crowd as they do a victory lap through the various eras of their career.

This musician is not in fact Taylor Swift but Dereyk Whibley from Sum 41 and tonight in Dublin we’re treated to a career retrospective as the Ontario, Canada natives call curtains on their career after a three decade long run.

But first, local lads The Scratch are in ferocious form as they get things warmed up. Mixing elements of traditional Irish music with metal shredding shouldn’t work, but in person it clicks perfectly. You’d be forgiven for thinking this is their own headline show, such is the engagement of the crowd. Things are on a ten from the opening ominous drum thumps and rarely let up in the half-hour set.

By the time Sum 41 arrive on stage the bar has been raised quite high. With almost 30 years under their belt the quintet are here for a good time as they wrap things up. They’ve a lot of ground to cover and cover it they do.

Launching straight into the light and bouncy Motivation from their breakthrough album ‘All Killer No Filler’. This is promptly followed with back to back songs from the heavier ‘Does This Look Infected’ in the form of Hell Song and Over my Head (Better Off Dead)

The pace doesn’t let up at all as we’re given serious bang for our buck throughout this twenty five song set. The full spread of their back catalogue is featured, going all the way from “the first song we ever recorded a video for” in the form of Makes No Difference right up to the recently released final album ‘Heaven :x: Hell’.

Sum 41 have never been your standard pop-punk band. Their metal influences set them apart from their peers. These influences are wholly on display tonight. Motivation is tagged by the thunderous 88 whereas later in the set Rise Up, from the Hell side of ‘Heaven :x: Hell’ is the most frantic and pummelling moment of the gig.

These two contrasting sides are best displayed on arguably their most ambitious song, We’re All to Blame. They sharply contrast between verses with everything set to 11. Drummer Frank Zummo is doing his best to utilise every single part of his kit whilst the rest of the band layer on top with chugging ferocity. The chorus drops almost everything out as the tempo drops and Whilby encourages good old fashioned arm swaying. The bridge then introduces a galloping call for a circle pit before a beautiful culmination for a final chorus. On paper this shouldn’t work at all but in reality it delivers perfectly.

We imagine when the band were asked if they wanted pyro or confetti or streamers or smoke or an extended crowd platform or even a red-eyed inflatable skeleton for this final run of shows, they simply responded with a yes. 

It’s all on display here and put to good use. They can’t help but use it all to elevate this performance to the next level. There are moments when it feels ridiculous as they use multiple of these at the same time but when Whibley calls for them to “cut out the crazy production bullshit” during Still Waiting we do miss it.

Rock cliches aren’t frowned upon here but rather, they’re embraced. Guitar shredding is heavily encouraged from the various platforms throughout the stage, as is the lining up of guitars and bass to bop back and forth. All the while Whibley is constantly on the move, orchestrating the incredibly eager crowd. Be it circle pits, sing alongs, arm swaying, or collective crouching, he is a master at orchestrating the evening.

It’s no surprise that the biggest reaction of the night comes from breakout smash Fat Lip. It does a great job of illustrating what makes this band so fun. The interplay between the various vocal parts, the youthful exuberance, the layered hooks, and of course the crowd-led bridge section. These Canadians will certainly be missed and we get the feeling they’ll miss us too. You don’t get to this stage of your career and all those tours completed without seriously loving what you do.