Sum 41 at the Academy, Dublin, 10 February 2016
The Kerrang! Tour returns to Dublin, bringing with it the long awaited return of Sum 41, and as always, some up and coming names in rock.
Roam are very quickly becoming one of the most talked about bands in modern pop-punk. Their set tonight shows why, but that’s not necessarily as high a praise as it may sound. They put on a decent show, with decent music, but it’s all very generic and same-y. Roam have found a formula that has worked for other bands and they’re doing the same. It’s hard to distinguish one song from another. It is basically just text book pop-punk, which in fairness, is what most people are here to see tonight. That being said, what Roam lack in originality they more than make up for in stage presence and energy. There’s no doubt that this band have potential and with a little bit more time to grow and make their own identity, big things may yet be on the cards.
Next up, ex-Gallows frontman, Frank Carter returns to his punk roots. Again, he puts on a great show but underwhelming music lets him down. There’s nothing really special about it. His angsty and angry punk just becomes a bit monotonous after a while. Songs like I Hate You however, that have a little bit more groove make the set more enjoyable.
Now for the main event, Sum 41. After Deryck Whibley’s health problems in 2014, many wondered if they would see Sum 41 play again, and perhaps more importantly – if they did, what it would be like? Tonight shows that Whibley is still able to be a great frontman, and the rest of the band, completed by Dave Baksh, Jason McCaslin and Frank Zummo, still have what it takes to put on a proper pop-punk show. Starting with the Over My Head (Better Off Dead), the tone for the show is already set with the venue finally waking up.
As the show goes on, everyone is reminded (if they had forgotten) about how many absolute anthems the band has, with Still Waiting, In Too Deep and Fat Lip standing out as particular favourites, unsurprisingly. But aside from the setlist, Sum 41 are also one of the most entertaining bands to watch live. Avoiding the cheesiness inherent in the pop-punk world (cue the “screw society” speech, quickly followed by “buy our merch!”) Whibley manages to have what seem like sincere and natural conversations with the crowd. After not touring for years, the band show that they have far from forgotten how to perform.
After a slightly underwhelming beginning then, Sum 41 more than make up for it. Showing why they have become an icon in the pop-punk world, and that they are back and here to stay.