Before the final song of a three-song encore, frontman Danny O’Donoghue asked the audience to pull out their phones and start recording. The Sept. 30 show at the Orpheum Theater had already been lengthy, but O’Donoghue had something to say: “Our album is called ‘Freedom Child,’ because we fancy our freedom has been under attack this year,” he shouted to a rapt crowd. “Freedom is about tolerance for us. ... I think that’s the reason why we’re all united, the Script family. There is no divide between us, there is no stage between us, we are one.” As soon as O’Donoghue finished speaking, the Script crashed into “Hall of Fame”—a feel-good adrenaline rush that the Irish band had been building towards all night. The audience didn’t stop cheering for the remainder of the show.
Throughout the night, O’Donoghue preached that same lesson of unity and oneness. The morals seemed genuine: There was no hint of irony or cynicism at the Orpheum. The subject matter may have been more political than the Script of the past (“I believe in the freedom to love who you want to love!” O’Donoghue shouted to the crowd), but the concert remained engagingly upbeat and enthusiastic. This is a band that believes in what they are saying, full stop. Their earnestness—while not groundbreaking—is infectious.
In all likelihood, one factor in the Script’s irrepressibly high energy is the two-year hiatus from which the band is now returning. The Sept. 30 show was the third of their current tour; the band last toured in 2015. “Freedom Child” came out Sept. 1. The band is back, just barely, and they still have all the relentless enthusiasm of novelty. O’Donoghue spent much of the show bouncing straight into the air like he was on a pogo stick. His physical presence, combined with the loud pop-rock the band was playing, kept the energy palpable. The tour’s merchandise and lighting was based around an “electricity” theme, with lots of neon lights and glowsticks—but the special effects were almost unnecessary. The energy came from the band.
At first glance, the physical space in the Orpheum Theater feels incongruous with such loud, flashy enthusiasm. The theater was built in 1852, and it remains formal and antique in atmosphere. It is a far cry from Radio City Music Hall, where the Script played the night prior. But if the Script had any doubts about the space, they didn’t show it. The lighting—well-suited to a bigger venue—reflected captivatingly off the balcony, bathing the entire audience in light. The sound only benefited from filling up all of a smaller room. O’Donoghue, especially, seemed to revel in the space: His favorite trick was to leave the stage and come into the audience through a variety of obscure doors. Over the course of the concert he made his way into every individual balcony box, as well as the balcony proper and the orchestra seats. During “The Energy Never Dies,” O’Donoghue got on top of the crimson velvet chairs and hopped from armrest to armrest, walking simultaneously through and above the crowd. The audience—which ranged dramatically in age—seemed almost ubiquitously invested in O’Donoghue’s motions. This was a crowd that remembered the Script. When he interacted with the crowd, they were prepared.
The Script remains, for all their refreshed energy, very much the group that these devotees recall. At one point early in the show, the band broke into a flashy, drum-based, strobe-light filled rock sequence—only to merge immediately into the classic 2010 heartbreak ballad “Nothing.” The relief in the audience was palpable. In general, they didn’t want glitz or hard rock. They wanted the earnest Script that they knew and loved. And the band—which performed only four new songs in a setlist of 16—played the part of the comeback kid flawlessly. The misleading “Nothing” intro summed up the show’s vibe overall: While the night advertised the Script as back and lightly rebranded, the moralistic, feel-good nostalgia that is the band’s trademark lurked close beneath the surface. The Script is beloved now, as they were five years ago, for their infectious and well-intentioned energy. The show at the Orpheum delivered exactly that.
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