Sublime with Rome – Live at Academy 2, Manchester 07/10/2010

Review by Chris Oliver

Do the over-25’s save up all their energy to release in controlled bursts? Although this is an old crowd, they are keen – half of them are wearing the t-shirts they bought in 1997 – and everyone is going crazy: screaming, pogoing, skanking and chucking pints. I bump in to a few people, and it’s like the good old days, except everyone is old.

The first songs are all oldies too, and well received, but the vocals are quiet and don’t penetrate too well. It’s a disappointment. There are some new songs too, but they (predictably) don’t draw anything like the same response from the crowd. They certainly aren’t bad, but they seem to lack a bit of the character and energy of the old material. I don’t have a problem with that at all – because this is a different band. It may not be Rome’s band, but it’s certainly not just Sublime. I’m not sure whether the more generic new material will serve the band well in today’s climate, or whether they will end up condemned to trying to please their old fans and becoming a self-parody. But either way, it will be a while before Sublime find their own style with Rome.

As expected, though, the set is mostly classics: ‘Get Ready‘ is a great sing-along, and gets people in the mood; ‘Smoke Two Joints‘ is less of a song, and more of an incitement to flout the smoking ban and make the place smell nice (it works). ‘Doin’ Time (Summertime)‘ is an odd example of how Sublime with Rome could be seen as a bit of a covers band. It’s a very faithful rendition of the original in most respects, and still includes the lyric ‘well qualified to represent the L.B.C. [Long Beach Crip]’. It raises the question of credibility – is Rome well qualified to represent the rather shall-we-say ‘alternative’ content of Sublime’s songs?

Those questions are irrelevant tonight though, because it’s clear from watching him (if you know the band’s story) that he’s not trying to be Bradley, he’s onstage playing the songs that he loves, and living any teenagers dream. The gig is great, and everyone leaves happy. However, it remains to be seen whether his own history and perspectives will translate into something credible – and more importantly something ‘Sublime’.

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