Live Review: The Script with Joshua Radin at 9:30 Club, Washington DC – 2nd November 2010

By on Friday, 5th November 2010 at 2:00 pm

While Ireland and the UK have welcomed the Script into their hearts, it took some doing for them to get noticed stateside: ‘Breakeven’ was released as a single to their self-titled debut here last September. They’re the kind of band that I usually wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole, but last year a friend of mine who had similar musical interests suggested I have a listen. Also, thanks to effective placement on VH1 here in America (read: I would see their videos during brekky telly watching before work), I got to know their songs better and it appears so did the rest of the country, because these days it’s not uncommon to hear a Script song on a local lite rock radio station.

I had an idea this show was going to be well attended, but I did not think it would sell out (it did) and I did not expect a massive queue before doors opened (there was – the longest queue I’ve ever seen outside the 9:30 Club, going down the block and around the building). As expected, there were tons of young girls with parents in tow, but there were also a lot of older women and their husbands, the women presumably having heard of the band while driving their kids around in people carriers. Pretty sobering to walk a long time in the cold trying to find the end of the queue.

Once inside, there was a huge mass of people up against the barrier: no shock there. With my ‘professional’ earplugs I was okay at a spot in front of huge speakers, right on the end of the barrier, and didn’t get hassled all night. (Maybe it was because everyone there was a respectful yet mad fan of the Script, but that was probably the only show I’ve ever been to at the 9:30 where I haven’t been shoved or gotten beer poured on me in some fashion.) At 8:15 PM, the opening act Joshua Radin appeared first with one guitarist, and then as his set progressed, the rest of his band filtered onstage. He obviously has a good fanbase in DC, as appreciative punters shouted for their favourite songs as he flashed his smile.

As my companion for the night astutely pointed out, Radin must have worked his way up through the coffee bar / cafe circuit, because he was very much at ease talking to the us in the audience as if we were old friends. Based on what I knew about him, I expected a folky set, but some songs were retooled and made rockier and jammier than their recorded counterparts. Songs like ‘Brand New Day’ (written a year after Radin broke up with his girlfriend and had finally gotten over her) and ‘Today’ (a song he admitted was not written to be a love / wedding song but has become one because American tv personality Ellen Degeneres used it at her own wedding) showed Radin’s deftness with songwriting. When the club turned his microphone off (what?), which led Radin to rally his troops and do an entirely acoustic / a cappella number. Nice set to warm up the crowd for the Script.

But like the girls in the front row that had green sweatshirts with shamrocks painted on them, really, we were waiting for the Script. I was very impressed with lead singer/keys man Danny O’Donoghue’s keyboard setup – the front of the stand had speakers built into it that showed its own pulsating light show all night. Quite cool. I was stood in front of guitarist Mark Sheehan all night, which was pretty amazing, because I had a good view of him rocking out all night. I’m not a Script scholar by any means, but I can recognise good power pop when I hear it.

Interestingly, something I did not know about the Script’s music was their ‘musical education’ was with ‘American black’ music including rap, which explains why songs like ‘We Cry’ have a definite r&b/hip hop edge that you might not expect from three clean-cut Dublin chaps. ‘The Man Who Can’t Be Moved’ was a massive singalong, the sad words of a man who waits on a street corner for the woman he truly loves but has lost reverberating through the 9:30 Club. A girl next to us was close to tears for most of the night, choked up in seeing her favourite band. This is why I blog: there are plenty of people out there in the world that are passionate about the music they love, and I make it my hobby/job to write about music for those people.

The Dublin trio’s set was a nice mix of material from their self-titled debut ‘The Script’ and from their album released this year, ‘Science & Faith’. But it should come as no surprise that the song that absolutely brought the house down was the last song and biggest hit in America to date, ‘Breakeven’. Even if you turn your nose at mass produced pop music (and especially if you’re a guy and you think these are a bunch of lightweights), you have to admit that the Script are talented songwriters and ‘Breakeven’ is a good example. Everyone in some point of their lives has suffered a broken heart. By that point I was close to tearing up. I mean, seriously, right now I can’t think of anything better lyrically than “what am I supposed to do / when the best part of me was always you / what am I supposed to say / when I’m all choked up and you’re okay”? It’s the perfect emotional distillation of exactly what you’re feeling when a relationship is ending. I’m going to remember this show for a long time to come.

Joshua Radin Set List:
No Envy
Brand New Day
Only Getting Better
I’d Rather Be With You
With the Light
Here We Go
What I Need
You’re Not as Young

Joshua Radin Photos:

The Script Set List:
You Won’t Feel a Thing
Talk You Down
We Cry
Before The Worst
If You See Kay
The End
Science & Faith
The Man Who Can’t Be Moved
I’m Yours (acoustic)
Rusty Halo
For the First Time

The Script Photos:

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3 Responses

5:37 pm
8th November 2010

Great read. Thought the combo of Radin and The Script would be odd, but I guess it worked.

1:13 am
14th March 2011

i loved ur comments about the script im from the north of ireland, im 28 and i went to see the band play in belfast on the 8th of this month, i was amazed they were fantastic, im a huge fan. i only hope they do extremly well in america as they deverve it, and u all do know gr8 music when u hear it.

[…] It was Irish pop band the Script, playing at some European club, probably around the same time I saw them myself the first time in DC 5 years ago. I was a very different person then. For one, when I saw them play, it had been a few days after […]

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