The Script’s first Irish show since headlining Croke Park in 2015 was in a converted boxing arena so it was appropriate the performance had a pugilistic edge.
The Dubliners are one of the country’s biggest musical exports this side of U2 yet their earnest style and irony-free blending of pop, rock and hip hop has made them a convenient punchbag.
That two of the group used to be in a boy band has provided further ammunition for cynics who have delighted in striking below the belt.
In a sweaty, intimate room they came out swinging. Rock The World and Arms Open, both from upcoming fifth album Freedom Child, underpinned soaring melodies with intricately layered guitar.
A mid-point segue into ambient pop featured tall-haired singer Danny O’Donoghue delivering a spoken word monologue as bearded Mark Sheehan piled riff upon riff while the Eighties-tinged No Man Is An Island tapped The Police for inspiration.
The audience was overwhelmingly female – though we can confirm at least one of Jedward was in attendance – and glued to their smartphones (more than a few streaming the concert live to fans who couldn’t get a ticket).
And if they loyally applauded the new songs, it was hits such as Superheroes, The Man Who Can’t Be Moved and If You Could See Me Now that received the loudest cheers.
O'Donoghue and company gave as good as they got, with the frontman (and former Voice UK judge) plunging into the crowd and striding around the venue as he crooned (in the process nearly walking into an oblivious journalist returning to his seat from the loo).
The Script remain very much The Script and anyone naive enough to expect an edgy new direction will have been underwhelmed. But nearly a decade since their debut album, their enthusiasm remains undimmed and the new songs have the hallmarks of anthems in waiting.
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