Live Review: The Script with Tristan Prettyman at DAR Constitution Hall, Washington, DC – 7th November 2011
It had been over a year since I’d last seen Dublin’s the Script perform in Washington DC. This time, they had a new album, ‘#3’, to play, and after the show, I reflected that my thoughts about the album last month rang true in their song selection for the evening. Though I think it best if I start from the beginning…
Tristan Prettyman opened the show last Wednesday night. She’s a singer/songwriter with a major label deal here in the States (Virgin Records) and has put out three albums already, which means she’s doing pretty dang well here. My guess though is that she is probably unknown in the UK, except for these two facts: she previously dated Jason Mraz and was engaged to him for a time, and she used to be a model, so you may have seen her sporting Roxy’s surfer togs at some point.
Prettyman plays a passable, if not incredibly exciting style of folk / pop guitar rock; I found her stage patter more interesting than her actual music. She explained that her t-shirts read “Peace, Love and Tacos” because that’s the kind of girl she is (all down to earth); she also stated that the Script were better at writing songs that meant something versus herself, who preferred to harass ex-boyfriends in song. (Ha!) ‘I Was Gonna Marry You’ is a standout from her current album ‘Cedar + Gold’.
I find it pretty unbelievable that the first time I saw the Script was 2 years ago at the 9:30 Club, standing on the end of the barrier down the front, that close to the band. Now they’re playing Constitution Hall, and you’re never going to get a chance to be down the front; I can’t stand industry folk who have been given front row tickets, which my guess includes most of the people up front; not wanting to put labels on people, but I really doubt that middle-aged men are massive fans of the Script. Still, I was bowled over by their U.S. label giving me a sixth row ticket to enjoy the show after I finished shooting the show from the same unsheltered platform as last year.
With three albums under their belt, the Script have a lot of flexibility for their set list, but as I had guessed correctly, they chose the strongest songs from the new album ‘#3’ – ‘Hall of Fame’, ‘Six Degrees of Separation’ – to grace Wednesday night’s show. They began the night with the local (pub) ready ‘Good Ol’ Days’, which got singer Danny O’Donoghue out on the floor straight out of the gate, improvising with a man with a white hat and asking miscellaneous excited girls to sing along with him, while other fans looked on and squealed with delight. Another unique moment was when the girl in the row behind me rang a lover that jilted her (supposedly) and O’Donoghue sang to the person while holding her mobile on stage. Evidently, Washington holds a special place in the band’s hearts, as O’Donoghue recalled that at the previous gig, the audience sang along so loudly to ‘The Man Who Can’t Moved’, he joked that he considered packing up his gear and leaving. Not so fast, Danny. While this was the biggest sing-along of the night, there were more highlights to come.
‘Talk You Down’, which has been a mainstay of their live shows, sounded great, and I breathed a sigh of relief when O’Donoghue took his rightful place behind his keyboard. (I was so surprised when the show began and he walked the length of the stage, mike in hand, and didn’t play the amazing melody of ‘Hall of Fame’. (Thankfully, they have another keyboard player in the background, so the melody was still being played live, just not by Danny.) The tearjerker of the night was ‘If You Could See Me Now’ (video below); I honestly didn’t expect them to play this live, since it was my impression from the research I did for ‘#3’ that it was just too painful for them to perform. Really, I feel blessed that I was there to witness O’Donoghue and Mark Sheehan’s heartfelt messages to their departed parents. There is a series of lines that O’Donoghue sings about how his father inspired him to write songs that is heart-wrenching.
I don’t cry too often at gigs, but I cried a grand total of three times this night because I was just so emotionally overwhelmed by the performance. ‘You Won’t Feel a Thing’, the opener of second and my favourite album of theirs, ‘Science and Faith’, had a brilliant flashing light display that enhanced rather than detracted from the touching nature of this song; it’s basically talking about how you would give everything to protect the person you love, including absorbing all the pain they have felt. While the encore of ‘Breakeven’ and ‘For the First Time’ no doubt are the populist favourites among fans, this stands as one of my absolute favourites of theirs. I discovered the Script when I needed them 2 years ago, and I’m pleased that they’re still cranking out songs that sound massive and they have the opportunity to play venues like this.
After the cut: the Script’s set list. More high-res photos of this show can be viewed on my Flickr here.
The Script Set List:
Good Ol’ Days
Hall of Fame
Science and Faith
The Man Who Can’t Be Moved
Before the Worst
If You Ever Come Back
Talk You Down
Give the Love Around
I’m Yours (acoustic)
Six Degrees of Separation
You Won’t Feel a Thing
For the First Time