“Woah, that’s fucking awesome, man!” You join us as [a]Sum 41[/a]’s hyperactive frontman/guitarist Deryk Whibley stands on top of the Academy’s 30ft-high speaker stack – one hand widdling away on his fretboard, the other in the air – drinking in the acclaim of his bandmates. It started as an attempt to play the solo he messed up last time [a]Sum 41[/a]were in London but now it’s like Bill & Ted being egged on by the team from ‘Jackass’.
Don’t be too put off by all their potty talk in last week’s NME, it’s daft stunts like this which demonstrate that [a]Sum 41[/a] are little more than takers of the metal piss. They play with every cliché going (Maiden-esque ‘Tour Of The Rising Sum’ backdrop, flaming drumsticks, synchronised foot-on-monitor action) but their overall schtick is as wholesome as panto. Perhaps more wholesome – they don’t even say ‘boobies’.
However, while showing few signs of growing up (an oddly impressive rap interlude aside), [a]Sum 41[/a] are in danger of growing too big too soon. Masters of the two-minute punk stomp with added ironic metal bits, their ascent to venues this size means they’re increasingly padding out their show with endless soloing. And no amount of framing that with comedy (“The kids like it when I get technical!” boasts guitarist Dave Baksh. “Well I’m gonna unleash the dragon on your ass!” retorts Deryk), can make that listenable. Especially when the drummer has a go.
Fortunately, [a]Sum 41[/a] know their weaknesses as well as their strengths. “Y’all want me to shut the fuck up and play another song?” laughs Deryk, signalling a final half-hour in which to mosh and go. ‘Crazy Amanda Bunkface’ and ‘Fat Lip’ hurtle by sweatily, while drummer Stevo’s squeals on ‘Pain For Pleasure’ have the metallidads at the back thinking wistfully of the Priest as they watch their young ‘uns hurl themselves into the front rows.
Perennial adolescents, covering every inch of stage in the name of entertainment, [a]Sum 41[/a] truly are the Paul Gascoignes of pop with all the contradictions that implies. But next time, how about all killer and less filler?