Live Music + Gig Reviews

Sum 41 + Viking Skull @ Electric Ballroom, London

30 September 2004

The Electric Ballroom tonight plays host to thetitans of nu-pop-punk Sum 41, and with the bouncershaving more trouble shooing off boozing louts outside than with the pre-pubescent rebels entering it, tonight will mostly go downas their least eventful gig yet.

As the merchandise stall is flooded by parentswriting cheques, yes cheques, to pay for theiroffspring’s new Sum 41 trucker caps, warm up actViking Skull take the stage in front of asomewhat impatient Ballroom.

If The Darkness are Thin Lizzy forthe new millennium, then Viking Skull are outto make a quick buck on AC/DC’s back. Withblues metal at its most basic (and best!) the motleycrew of Raging Speedhorn members and otherassorted northern degenerates play a most impressiveset, with Sum 41 guitarist Brownsound standing sidestage and grinning like a Cheshire cat throughout.

Then it’s time for the headliners. The Canadian quartet rattle through classic anthemssuch as Suddenly and Over My Head with the kind ofinfectious gaiety that has ensured them the multi-platinum pedestal they now possess. By the time theboys get around to what is ultimately the point oftonight’s pre-album release gig in the form of newsingle We’re All To Blame, the crowd is suitablyprimed for what is a more metallic sounding, grown uplyrical content than their previous efforts.

At first it was no more than a sneaking suspicionthat this new found maturity may have blown straightover the pint sized audiences heads, but when frontman Deryck Whibley dedicates Moron to G.W. Bush and proceeds to attackthe leader of his neighbouring nation through a deadlycombination of power chords and cheeky cuss words, itwas clear that the little runts could’ve been jumpingaround to pro-war propaganda and they would’ve beennone the wiser.

But parents are a little harder to fool as Welcometo Hell proves, with Whibley proclaiming his twistedsexual fantasies towards the Prince of Darkness ascountless chaperones reach to cover their littledarlings ears in shock. As if feeling the tension inthe air, the mischievous four quickly slip back intoexpected territory with Makes No Difference and FatLip getting things nice and sweaty again.

Still Waiting provides my personal high point ofthe evening with pop punk power at its very best, andthen the candle of hope in the future of rock isrelentlessly crushed as the band drop into RageAgainst The Machine‘s Bombtrack and everyonestarts scratching their head wondering which Sum 41album it is on. Woe is me. The encore consists of theever amusing Pain for Pleasure and old favouriteBitter End, which it was indeed.

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Sum 41 + Viking Skull @ Electric Ballroom, London