The Script at Croke Park – Review and Photos
Following a year of non-stop touring in support of fourth album No Sound Without Silence, The Script rocked up in Croke Park stadium on a gorgeous summer’s evening for a triumphant homecoming victory parade. One which celebrates their ascent to global stardom over the past seven years. Having started their journey in the intimate surroundings of The Sugar Club, The Script have gradually worked their way through all of Dublin’s major venues over the years, playing shows at The Button Factory, The Academy, The Olympia, Dublin Castle, the 3Arena, and a famous headline gig at The Aviva Stadium in 2012. Now the band have graduated to playing the country’s biggest stage. Only two Irish acts have previously headlined the famous Dublin venue, U2 and Westlife. Fittingly, The Script are the perfect middle ground between both, producing highly polished anthemic pop songs with an energetic rock edge. Many music critics may scorn at their slickly produced radio-friendly output, but selling out Croker in a matter of hours shows the sheer scale of the band’s popularity.
Pharrell Williams served as the band’s main warm up act, with a fluctuating set comprising of solo material, covers, N*E*R*D tracks, overlong dance routines and some of those global hit collaborations that heralded his 2014 renaissance (‘Get Lucky’, ‘Blurred Lines’). As the set takes off midway through, he has more than enough familiar songs to keep the rapidly growing crowd “Happy” (pun intended). As anticipation builds for the main event, a procession of green flag bearers line the Croke Park touchlines. The band emerge at the rear of the stadium, making their way through the audience flanked by security guards like heavyweight prizefighters preparing to defend their title in the ring. After climbing on stage, they kick into the Dropkick Murphys style stomp of ‘Paint the Town Green’, a rousing Celtic flavoured ode to their homeland, and a perfect way to start their homecoming. Excellent 2009 hit single ‘Breakeven’ gets an early airing to get the crowd onside, followed by ‘Before The Worst’ which name-checks Grafton Street much to the crowds delight. Last summer’s radio smash ‘Superheroes’ also gets dropped into the set early on. Surprising, as its one of the band’s best songs, a soaring anthem of self-belief and its live incarnation doesn’t disappoint.
A major factor in the Scripts enduring success is their ability to seamlessly blend together a plethora of musical genres. From pop (‘Breakeven’) and stadium rock (‘You Won’t Feel a Thing’) through to hip hop (‘We Cry’) and rap (‘Good Ol’ Days’), their covering of these most popular of musical styles mean they have a genuine everyman appeal. The band dedicate the emotional ‘If You Could See Me Now’ to the victims of the recent tragedy in Berkley. Written about the band losing family members at a young age, the song takes on a whole new meaning tonight in light of recent events and the crowd appreciate the gesture with warm applause. The hits keep on coming with ‘Nothing’ (featuring frontman Danny O’Donoghue questionably ringing a crowd member’s ex-girlfriend mid song), ‘Man on a Wire’ and the ‘I can’t believe it wasn’t a single’ bounce of ‘Gold Ol’ Days’ from 2012’s rap influenced #3 album.
The trio make their way to the centre of the stadium onto a ‘B’ stage for a performance of saccharine ballad ‘Never Seen Anything Quite Like You’, it’s mention of being ‘your date for the prom’ is probably an Americanism too far. Infinitely better is a gorgeous stripped down rendition of the band’s breakthrough hit ‘The Man Who Can’t Be Moved’, one of their most perfectly written pop songs. It’s not hard to imagine Westlife’s Shane Filan belting out the song during a Westlife show. As they depart the ‘B’ stage, guitarist Mark Sheehan furiously strums the opening chords of the U2-esque ‘You Won’t Feel a Thing’, showing the band can expertly switch from pop to rock in a matter of seconds.
Several tracks from the band’s latest release get an airing tonight, which is apt given that they sound like they were specifically commissioned for a performance at Croke Park. ‘It’s Not Right For You’ and ‘No Good In Goodbye’ sound truly colossal in tonight’s setting, though it does mean that older singles ‘Talk You Down’, ‘Millionaires’ and the brilliant ‘Science and Faith’ are left off the setlist. The biggest disappointment of a triumphant night is the low volume of the sound mix. Though outdoor stadium gigs are rarely renowned for their sound quality. After a short break, the band return for an encore with 2011’s recession anthem ‘For The First Time’ going down a storm, before the brilliant ‘Hall of Fame’ blows the (metaphorical) roof off the venue, finishing with an impressive fireworks display.
The Script are no strangers to enormous gigs having previously played a stadium headline show in the Aviva in 2012. Back then, with just two releases to their name, the band didn’t really have a setlist suitable for such a show. However, this time around with a further two albums and a string of hit singles, the band’s back catalogue is stuffed with rousing crowd pleasers. Even some of their non-single album tracks are of ‘A’ grade quality. Whilst some critics may never be won over, tonight The Script consolidated their place in pop music’s premier league with a flawless performance from start to finish. With charisma, excellent musicianship and a vast selection of brilliant songs, The Script took their place in Irish music’s own Hall of Fame on a truly memorable night.
Photos by Anamaria Meiu
Review by Gary O’Donnell
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