This was my third time seeing The Script headline Brighton Centre and every tour they just seem to get better and better. Indeed, this gig was as near perfect a pop show as you could hope for: a band brimming with confidence, whose last album topped the charts, playing twenty of their best songs, showcasing the stagecraft they’ve built up over the past eight years and harnessing the latest technology in a really inventive way. But, it has to be said, it didn’t get off to the best of starts.
Before going into that, a word on what preceded them onstage. Originally, Labrinth was named as their tour support. Now, usually having a big name on the bill tends to evoke thoughts of “we might not sell out, so we need some help” but whatever their reason, we never got to see Labrinth as he cried off citing something along the lines of “sorry guys, I’ve got an album to finish.”
It was some surprise then when his replacement was named, for only a few months ago Tinie Tempah was himself headlining the Brighton Centre and a support slot seemed like an odd career move. As it turned out, for The Script at least, he was an inspired choice as Tinie played the role of warm-up man way better than Labrinth could ever have done.
Now it’s always a bit bizarre when a performer wears a T-shirt bearing their own face and name (the last time I saw such a combo was watching Adam Ant) but whether it was a reminder to the audience of who he was, or a not so subtle attempt to promote his merch, only he knows.
I was going to mention how Tinie didn’t have a band with him this time, but the reality is that’s par for the course for most rappers these days, so the absence of any musicians really didn’t make any difference. What he did bring, however, was a whole bunch of crowd-pleasers and, together with DJ Charlesy, he did a great job of bringing the audience from a simmer to a boil. By the time he left, they were well and truly ready.
What no one in the venue was prepared for though was The Script’s entrance. Accompanied by green flag-bearers, the boys made their way to the stage like prizefighters, walking triumphantly through the audience from the back of the venue to the sound of their ode to all things Irish ‘Paint The Town Green.’ It was certainly different, if just a tad egocentric.
What followed was much better as Danny and the band belted out hit after hit. I say Danny and the band, because just like the Kaisers at the same venue a few weeks earlier, this is very much the front man’s show. Of course, both he and Ricky Wilson traded seats on The Voice and both dominate their respective bands. To be fair, it is a little different with The Script as guitarist Mark Sheehan and drummer Glen Power both get to say a few anecdotal words between songs and both contribute harmony vocals on most of them. Behind the trio are two more musicians, one on bass, another on keys and as so many of the band’s songs are keyboard led, it was a shame that the man responsible for much of the melody was relegated to the back of the stage.
With four album’s-worth of material to choose from, there’s no shortage of quality songs on display. They benefited hugely from being played live, sounding so much bigger and more powerful than their recorded versions. Glen Power’s drums in particular sounded huge. But what was most impressive was the overall production value The Script put into their show, everything was top notch, from the superb quality images on the side screens to the creativity shown on the floor-to-ceiling video screen that they played in front of.
These days, huge video screens have become de rigeur for most established performers, so once the novelty of the screen has worn off, what it’s used for becomes all important. And I have to say, for me The Script used it perfectly: a mix of live vision and graphics that complemented their performance, rather than taking away from it. And, by the way, I almost forgot to mention, they also had yet another video screen running horizontally above the stage.
And they had something else, too. Lasers. Now, I’m normally no fan of lasers, having the view that once you’ve seen one laser show you’ve seen ‘em all. But here The Script used them both sparingly and in an interesting way. Firstly, they were in colours you don’t normally see – whites, pinks and blues – that reflected the cover art of their latest album. And secondly, as I’ve said, they were sparing in their use, which makes them so much more impactful. ‘Sparkly’ would be a good word to use to describe the look of the show, appropriate because this was a sparkling performance from a band at the very top of their game.
It helps when your set list reads like a greatest hits album, with one crowd pleaser following another. And, at every opportunity, the audience lustily sang along. What’s most impressive is unlike many of their contemporaries, the new material is actually better than those like ‘The Man Who Can’t Be Moved’ and ‘Breakeven’ that first broke them. Indeed, the songs on ‘No Sound Without Silence’ are amongst the best they’ve written. Tracks from the new record accounted for almost half the set and included the evening’s highlights: ‘Man On A Wire’ ‘It’s Not Right’ and ‘The Energy Never Dies’.
Appropriately, from the moment they took the stage, to the time they left, the energy both on the stage and in the room never died either. A feast for the ears as well as the eyes, this was one of those gigs you wish other bands could witness just to see how it’s done.
Not only did they put on a great show, but with the addition of a high-calibre support act they were excellent value for money, something that can’t always be said for many of their contemporaries. It’s no wonder they have such a large fan-base. Indeed, when they posed for the now customary ‘stage-selfie’ they said they were only as good as the audience. I’m sure everyone who saw them would agree it was a performance they’ll remember for a long time to come.
The Script’s latest album ’No Sound Without Silence’ is out now