When The Script stepped on to the stage in Los Angeles’ Greek Theatre this weekend, they were surrounded by a crowd of young teenage girls that squealed and jumped up and down when they first caught a glimpse of lead singer Danny O'Donoghue’s winning smile. What set this audience apart from the average young pop crowd, however, was that speckled throughout this group of breathless teens were people proudly holding up flags with three bright stripes of green, white and orange. Fans enthusiastically displayed the symbol of the band’s Irish ancestry, waving the flag with every song they sung.
The Script is the most recent addition to the healthy lineage of Irish musicians to bring their heritage and their music to the states. In 1967 the release of the single “Brown Eyed Girl” created a solo career for singer/songwriter, Van Morrison, as well as a pathway for other Irish musicians. Morrison’s hits and influence as a songwriter carved out a space for new talents from Ireland to make their way out of the countryside and into international charts with their unique sound. After Morrison, Rory Gallagher, Thin Lizzy, Sinead O’Connor, and U2 followed. Seeing the stadium filled with a throng of crazed girls squeezed in between loyalists of The Script’s mother country, it almost felt like if you swapped out the skinny jeans for bellbottoms it could have been U2’s audience from 30 years ago. Unfortunately, they didn’t quite live up to the explosive power of their musical predecessors.
Perhaps it was due to the group’s limited lyrical content that played like the soundtrack to the average adolescent’s angst, or perhaps it was due to the band’s indecision as to what kind of gig they were playing. While The Script is often labeled as pop rock, after viewing their show it became glaringly obvious that the rock half of that title was a generous overestimation. Though they have more punchy songs to choose from, that night they crooned like balladeers singing different melodies to the same heartbreak over and over. This isn’t to say that the show was bad. It was just a bit confusing.
It was almost as if the members of the band didn’t quite know what kind of show they were doing either. Being an Irish group, unaffected by American language sensitivities, O'Donoghue and his bandmate Mark Sheehan, often cursed and used “offensive” language. This type of thing is par for the course, and even expected at a rock show. However, surrounded by adoring 15 year olds who probably spent hours scrawling the name “Danny O'Donoghue” surrounded by hearts on their algebra notebooks, it seemed a bit jarring. This is something you wouldn’t blame the band for, except for the fact that they also pandered to this majority of their audience, often bending down and grabbing the pleading outstretched hands of their fans, smiling and effortlessly playing the part of heartthrob. The show would have been better if The Script had been able to pick a side, instead of vacillating between rockers and teen idols, attempting to occupy the ineffectual space in between these two distinct personas.
This non-rock, non-boy band take on their concert left me unsure of how I felt about their performance. At times they just seemed lazy, barley moving around on stage and all too often requesting audience participation. I can hear my own terrible voice singing your choruses any time I want, thank you very much. They relied heavily on O'Donoghue’s good looks and charm as well as their solid foundation of songs, refusing to do more than twirl around a couple times and bend down on their knees to give out high fives. This would have been exceedingly frustrating except for the fact that, well, O'Donoghue is pretty darn cute, and their songs are pretty darn solid.
Even more perplexing was the opening to their genre-confused show. Before the band came out, an extremely odd sci-fi prelude echoed into the open-air arena. Stephen Hawking’s robotic voice boomed out a spacey description of the smallness of the earth and the vastness of the universe while towers of lights blinked on stage like an alien S.O.S. Again, this would have been a decently cool opening… for another band. This had absolutely no connection to The Script’s material, and while it was interesting enough, it set the tone for the enjoyable, yet head-scratching puzzle of a concert. In fact, the lighting might have been the most bewildering part of the entire show. In between every single song they shut down all the lights for at least 10 seconds. It’s possible they were afraid the young girls would have been disgusted by the old roadies handing O'Donoghue and Sheehan new guitars. Or maybe an intern was manning the lighting station. Either way it was an off-putting and utterly odd distraction. In fact, when they shut down the lights in order to coax the audience into applauding for the perfunctory encore, it was almost exactly the same as the interim between every other song.
Still, the songs were fun and everyone in the audience seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves, singing along to tunes like “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved,” “Breakeven,” and “Six Degrees of Separation.” In fact, the stadium packed in with devoted fans knew all the words to every track, including those from their new album, #3. When they sang “Hall of Fame,” it began to drizzle in the ceiling-less venue but no one cared. Undeterred, everyone stood on their feet, shouting out lyrics and bobbing their excited pony-tailed heads. Played all together, it was abundantly clear that their catalogue of songs had a definite theme. Somebody had trampled one these boys’ hearts. Still, it’s hard to feel too badly for them, when they have a bevy of ladies that would sell their souls to have the opportunity to console them.
One of the best moments of the show was when they encouraged everyone in the audience to drunk dial their ex’s for their song, “Nothing.” In a truly entertaining twist, O'Donoghue began grabbing cell phones out of the crowd and singing into them. This was really fun to watch and it likely made the night for quite a few girls and whoever was on the other end of the line of their phones. But, this also played into the confusing nature of the concert, as none of the girls were probably old enough to drink let alone drunk dial anyone.
Even if the show was unsure of itself, O'Donoghue and the audience seemed satisfied enough. Though their missteps and weird lighting decisions were plentiful, so was the group’s musical talent and charm. So, though it wasn’t a great rock show by any stretch of the imagination, it was a fairly decent pop show and it was an excellent concert for teenagers. If they continue to follow this formula, they’ll have no shortage of bubbling girls vying for a seat at their next performance.
By: Darianne Dobbie