Friday night’s lineup at the State Theatre featured Irish trio The Script and opening act Hugo, who played to a full house of nearly 2,200 people. I arrived excited to see The Script in concert and curious about Hugo, who is touring the U.S. for the first time. This was The Script’s second visit to Minneapolis. In August 2009 they played the Triple Rock, which Mark Sheehan (lead guitar, rhythm guitar, and backing vocals) described as “somebody’s living room.”
Four musicians, on guitar, bass, keyboard, and drums, backed opening act Hugo, who is British by birth, but was raised in Thailand. Hugo played guitar, sang, and mostly kept his feet in one place. During his 45-minute set, he played a lot of his own music, but also performed two drastically different covers. The first was his rendition of “99 Problems” by Jay-Z, which he sang accompanied by banjo. The second cover was “Children of the Revolution” released by T. Rex in 1972 and since covered by the Violent Femmes and Bono, among many other artists. I enjoyed the quirky mash-up of rock, blues, country, and hip-hop and will definitely keep an eye on Hugo as he likely gains mainstream recognition.
The Script, smiling and energized, took the stage shortly after 9 p.m., and their enthusiasm never wavered throughout their 80-minute set. Danny O’Donoghue, on vocals, keyboard, and occasionally guitar, immediately skipped to the front of the stage and greeted fans in the first row. As he crooned the lyrics to their first song, he came down the steps at the front of the stage and into the center aisle where he continued to greet fans and offer the microphone for people to sing along to the chorus. Danny may have underestimated the welcome he would receive from the Minneapolis crowd. Back on stage he stopped for a moment to catch his breath and work a look of shock off of his face.
The most striking aspect of the concert was the amazement expressed by Danny as the crowd wildly cheered and sang along to nearly every song. Danny introduced “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved,” which was their second single off of their self-titled debut album, by saying he never imagined the song would take them from Dublin around the world. The crowd did not disappoint, and as the volume of cheering and clapping increased I was tempted to cover my ears or check the concession stand for earplugs. As the song closed, Danny stared around the theater, clearly dumbfounded by the crowd’s passion. He took it all in as he sat on the edge of the drum platform and I was sure a tear would roll down his face at any moment.
After their second song, “We Cry,” which was The Script’s first single, Mark talked to us about how their tour is going so far. They are about 10 days and 8 shows into their U.S. tour. Mark asked the crowd if we could understand him owing to his Irish accent and joked about possibly needing subtitles to run across the front edge of the stage. The band said they feel welcome in the U.S., but they lamented our substandard tea. Mark said he wanted “to educate America on tea.” The show continued with Danny dominating the stage during the songs and Mark talking to the crowd during breaks and instrument changes. Although Glen Power, on drums, and sometimes rhythm guitar and backing vocals, didn’t say much to the crowd, he was engaged and part of the action because the drum platform sat on the front right of the stage.
In interviews, the band often mention the collaborative aspect of their work and that they all contribute to their music equally. This was evident both in the arrangement of the members spaced equally across the front of the stage and the dynamic between the guys. Having said that, Danny was clearly comfortable as the front man for the group and when he wasn’t held in check by having to play keyboards or guitar: he worked the stage with boundless enthusiasm, dancing, pumping his fists, and jumping around.
Although the The Script’s pop music is repetitive in tone and subject—each song consisting of a handful of verses and a killer pop chorus, with lyrics centering on the roller coaster that is love—not once did Danny’s delivery seem contrived or forced. The infusions of hip-hop and rock into various songs as well as the band’s freshness invigorated the music. In an age of glossy, auto-tuned popular music, it can be difficult for a genuinely talented pop group to be taken seriously. The Script proved last night that they are a band who can infect us all with their catchy melodies that demand to be sung along to at the top of your voice.