You’ve heard their songs played throughout the spring and summer. Fun and catchy as hell, you’ve found yourselves humming them aloud everywhere- in the post office, the DMV, on line waiting for a coffee. Still nothing truly prepares you for the experience of standing alongside 3000 screaming fans signing the words of every song right along with you. And such was the case at Manhattan’s Roseland Ballroom last night as The Script and special guests Hot Chelle Rae joined forces for the “Science and Faith Tour,” aptly titled after The Script’s 2010 release. With just two acts on the bill and an all ages show, the bands both brought a ton of energy to an otherwise ordinary New York City Night.
Concert Review: Hot Chelle Rae
Promptly at 8pm, the lights dimmed and exploding out was Nashville quartet Hot Chelle Rae with a vigor. Led by vocalist Ryan Follese, outfitted in a white Nirvana tank top and skin tight black pants, tattoos emblazed on his upper half, with a bandana headband and a long earring draping from his head, the band immediately dug into their opener “Freaks.” While the outfit is the embodiment of a youthful pop sound, it carries itself with a swagger that can only be described as a collective and unabashed rockstar persona. If the opener struck a chord with pure Hot Chelle Rae fans, their cover of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” brought the entire house alive- the mostly female audience singing every word in unison.
The thirty minute, seven song set was entirely lively, without any time wasted on a ballad or slower paced song- welcomed by a frenzied crowd response and more specifically, by this reporter. Normally opening acts play to a less than full house, but Hot Chelle Rae was an exception here. The general admission, standing room only floor was packed to the proverbial gills, pushing hordes of concert-goers to the farthest back bar in the room. The band closed out their set with their latest single “I Like it Like That,” followed by the immortal summer anthem “Tonight Tonight,” which had Follese battling the deafening crowd to sing the words to the song and had me longing for the days when I could enjoy this performance as much as the younger crowd was. But on any level, their performance was one that any fan of live music could find a way to appreciate.
Concert Review: The Script
Somehow, with just a half hour to spare, the stage setup was quickly changed over and guitarist Mark Sheehan was out first in pitch black darkness as the rest of the band took the stage. The applause at this point was raucous and overwhelming as digital cameras and iPhones rose from thousands of tiny hands in the audience as the rest of The Script emerged with a sea of flash photography before them. The Dublin bred trio, thick with accents, triumphantly paraded onstage- each of their faces emblazoned with smiles, indulging the crowd with their every movement. Channeling influences like The Police and an all too obvious parallel with U2, lead singer Danny O’Donoghue and company confidently strode through the hits from their only two albums to date. Alternating between his standing keyboard, and jumping around with unbridled enthusiasm the band served up highlights like “We Cry,” “The End,” and the unbelievably 80’s sounding “Rusty Halo.” The first half of the set only served to set the crowd up for their massively popular singles “Breakeven,” which closed out the first set and encore “For the First Time,” to which the vocal crowd replicated as if it were scripture.
While we won’t yet anoint The Script as the next mainstream act to break through that realm of pop culture icon status encompassed by so few, their appeal to such a diverse and mass audience is undeniable. In fact, we can’t recall having seen so many middle aged concertgoers enjoying themselves quite so much at a show- mothers and fathers were literally standing on the balcony, singing every word like they had been watching The Beatles, as the hordes of rowdy teenagers followed suit standing down below. Sensing the specialness of New York City, O’Donoghue embraced his supporters- “We’re so far from home. You make a small band from Ireland feel like the biggest fucking band in the world.” And on this night, the vociferous Manhattan crowd made that point irrefutable.
- Jane Van Arsdale