Toronto, Ontario – Oh, Sum 41, how far you’ve come. Despite this show making up for a previously cancelled one, Ajax’s favourite sons were greeted by a full house of hardcore kids, girls in tiny tube tops, drunken frat boys and little pop-punkers firmly protected by a designated parent. One had to wonder whether those parents were routinely covering their poor child’s ears, given all the less-than-all-ages language that was being tossed around.
“Sorry Mom, sorry Dad, your kids are going to be learning some new words tonight!” An appropriate warning coming from frontman Deryck Whibley, who would proceed to gleefully use “motherfucker” as a term of endearment more than half a dozen times as well as improvising on a tune called “Anna Nicole Is A Fucking Stupid Cunt.”
That wasn’t the only celebrity goofing of the night, as Whibley came out later with Elvis shades and scarf, preening and posturing before tossing the scarf to one lucky fan in the crowd. (Though judging by the chaotically ferocious look of the mosh pit up front, it was likely torn to shreds in three seconds.) Whibley’s an excellent showman – he knows exactly what to say to rile up the crowd and exactly when to say it.
As for the music, the boys were on the top of their game. The rhythm section was especially tight, with Steve-O bashing the drums in a blur and Cone attacking his bass like he wanted to kick somebody’s ass instead. And maybe it was the inky black hair and the red button-up shirt, but Whibley looked and sounded like a young Billie Joe Armstrong. Can’t go wrong there.
With such a large collection of hit singles to draw on, it was a bit surprising that Sum decided to stick mostly with non-singles and tracks from their recent release, Chuck. Although they opened with a blistering version of “The Hell Song,” songs like “There’s No Solution,” “Welcome To Hell” and “No Brains” were set up in between more established cuts like “We’re All To Blame,” “Still Waiting” and “Motivation.” The audience reacted just as loudly to the less popular tunes as they did to the hits. One of the night’s best musical moments was during a performance of newest single “Pieces,” showing off the band’s more emotional side as lighters waved in the air.
Then somebody decided that it’d be a good idea to play Let’s Try To Hit The Singer In The Face With A Shoe. Well, congrats for hitting the target, asshat. Whibley recovered admirably though, choosing to stop the song and laugh it off (“That’s alright, I didn’t need that tooth!”) rather than storm off the stage.
On a whole, it was a successful show to kick off Sum’s new tour and if every show sells out like this one, the boys have a good summer to look forward to. It might have made for a late school-night bedtime for a few of the smaller punkers in the crowd, but no doubt everyone went home satisfied.