Three Irishmen walk into the O2 Arena… No, this isn’t a setup for a terrible dad joke, but a description of my Saturday night! I’ve been trying to go to more gigs over the past couple of years, as music has been in my life a lot longer than theatre but I’ve managed to let it fall by the wayside a bit – so when I spotted that The Script were playing the O2 (a short bus ride from where I live) and that there was a reasonably priced ticket available, I thought there was no reason not to go. I’ll be completely honest, I had rather lost track of them since #3 and didn’t realise they’d doubled their album count since then – I just booked on a whim after they happened to tweet while I was perusing my timeline.
I should’ve remembered at that point that some of the best things can come out of random decisions like that.
Following an energetic and engaging support set from The Voice UK series 1 semi-finalist Becky Hill, the O2 was packed out and ready for the main event. I was intrigued by the setup of the arena (there was a large moon suspended above the crowd, plus a smaller stage near the sound desks) and not really sure what to expect.
I feel like I say this a lot, but what followed has to go down as one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to. And I wasn’t alone in that thought: only four or five songs into the set lead singer Danny O’Donoghue had the feeling that it was going to be their best London gig yet, a sentiment that powered them through their two-hour set and was affirmed at the end of the night. Though this tour is promoting their latest album (Sunsets & Full Moons), the set itself was a perfect blend of the old and the new – almost like a greatest hits set in that respect. It was incredibly well paced, with bursts of energy in between the more emotional and introspective numbers, and plenty of opportunities for a 16,000-strong singalong.
What was quite remarkable was the connection the band forged with the audience right from the very start. A little bit of Irish charm goes a long way! There’s a real art to playing shows as big as this as you can end up excluding all but those stood down near the front, but The Script have some tricks up their sleeves to counter this; not only did they head out into the lower seating levels to play a couple of songs, but they then headed to that other little stage I mentioned to do a few more. It was here that we had one of the high points of the night, as their breakthrough single The Man Who Can’t Be Moved brought everyone together and elicited such a sustained & overwhelming reaction that the band just stopped to drink it all in.
The show is a full-on production, with incredible quality projections & video footage and an insanely good light show (there really was Something Unreal about the first number), but the sense of unity is always there. From ringing audience member Jess’ ex during Nøthing (harking back to when O’Donoghue would phone his ex from the stage), to creating a virtual galaxy for the final song (even I was moved to shine my smartphone torch with everyone else), there was an unexpected intimacy to the whole night that few bands would be able to achieve.
Usually for gigs like this I prefer to be standing down in the crowd, right in the thick of it, as it tends to be where you get the best overall experience – for me it speaks volumes that even sitting halfway up the top tier I was made to feel like I was a part of things, as I’ve never felt a connection like that in a similar situation.
The magic of music also plays a part here; guitarist & vocalist Mark Sheehan explained early on that when they got together they decided that they’d only release songs that were personal to them and really meant something, so hearing them sung back feels very special. The passion with which they perform amplifies this and really sets the tone from very early on. In turn, the personal themes in their songs are bound to strike a chord with individuals in the audience, so there is a mixture of intensity, catharsis & joy all there at any given moment.
For me, this was an experience as much as a gig, and one that was sorely needed. As if to reward my faith in them there was also a hint of a drum solo from Glen Power at one point (regular readers will know how important something like that is to me!), and in the days since the show I’ve thoroughly enjoyed making up for lost time with the three albums I’d missed. This was a very special night indeed, so this is my final message to you: if in doubt, go and see The Script.
“Oh these times are hard, yeah they’re making us crazy – don’t give up on me, baby…”
The Script were at the O2 Arena on 29 February 2020. Full details of the tour can be found on the official website.