If you crossed the marketing allure of a rockstar band, a drug overdose, a string of posthumous top ten hits, and a reunion, a lawsuit, and a stadium tour, you’d have the recipe for the must-see show of the winter.
“Sublime with Rome” is the new (albeit awkward) name of the band members formerly known as “Sublime” plus their new frontman, aptly named, “Rome. They have taken the act on the road.
Controversy hails through cyberspace, with many die hard Sublime fans shunning the reunion tour as simply another Sublime cover band. But the proof is in the pudding. The shows are selling out. The audiences are passionately lip synching with every song, and moshing with fervor. Meanwhile, the new singer – is pretty darned great.
Youtube videos of their live performances show a talented lad at the helm of the Sublime rhythm section. It’s strange to hear him singing an uncannily mimicked version of Bradley Nowell’s soulful, poppy lyrics. But he does it well. Who can hate the guy?
Their rationale is that they are creating an opportunity for fans to experience the classic music live for the first time. Sublime never saw the fruits of their success, as their original frontman, Bradley Nowell, died of a heroin overdose in 1996 just as their first number one hit “What I Got,” was climbing the charts.
He never got to see the overwhelming influence that that landmark album had on the face of American pop culture. Blending hip-hop with reggae, punk, ska, and folk, they essentially invented a genre smash. And the world roared its approval.
Just before he died, Bradley had trademarked the name “Sublime,” stating that no one could perform under that name without him fronting the band. As a result, legal action was taken by his heirs to insist that the old band mates rename their project when they showed signs of going back on the road, 14 years later.
Rome Ramirez, the new singer, joins the original Sublime band members Eric Wilson on bass and Bud Gaugh on drums.
Whether you agree with the mashup or not, chances are your curiosity is piqued enough by the promise of a live singalong with your favorite 90’s classics, that you’ll want to come experience it for yourself.
Rome holds his own (at the surprisingly young age of 23), as a frontman, though the sparseness of the instrumentation leaves a gapingly obvious gap in which you feel and push and pull of the sophomorically united rhythm section. It is tighter, however, than the loose and often sloppy punk vibe of the original lineup.
I might venture to state my opinion, which is that I am impressed with Rome’s voice. The control and nuances of his vocals miiiight even sound better that the original Bradley Nowell vocal tone. (Gasp!)
Some might call it blasphemy. I say, decide for yourself.
Check out the show this Sunday night at the MACC outdoors on the lawn. Seats are $39.
Tickets available at www.mauiarts.org
Article brought to you with enthusiasm and curiosity by Maesyn, a local Maui musician (www.myspace.com/maesyn)
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