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The Script breaking more than just even

Dylan Amirio

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Fri, April 13, 2018  /  09:34 am
The Script breaking more than just even

Get the party started: Irish pop-rock band The Script graces the stage at The Kasablanka in Jakarta. (JP/Aditya Bhagas)

Their songs get frequent, almost constant, airplay on almost every station as their brand of music feeds the Indonesian obsession with bright, poppy-soft rock.

The moment that Indonesians heard that the band was playing on Tuesday at the Kasablanka Hall in South Jakarta, it was a race to the ticket line and visibly so, the hall itself was almost at capacity, but the cheering voices of the crowd made it seem like it was an arena as big as London’s O2.

The concert kicked off with a small, fun pre-concert video of The Script members Danny O’Donoghue, Mark Sheehan and Glen Power arriving in Jakarta, which caused much excitement among fans. Even when “Indonesia Raya” was blasted over the speakers as a cringe-inducing, unnecessary pre-show ritual, they were game enough not to care.

The trio entered the stage as superheroes. Sheehan’s guitar and O’Donoghue’s voice in their opening number, the radio staple “Superheroes”, were defeated by the singing, heaving crowd of mainly youngsters. The band seemed both perplexed and excited by the response from their loveable Indonesian fan base.

Undoubtedly, the peak of the show came during the band’s fourth song, “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved”.

The declaration turned out wrong as the men behind “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” were visibly moved by the audience’s heartfelt sing-along of their first single. It was a moment that sent chills down one’s spine, as the Indonesian crowd is known for their passion and heartfelt enthusiasm when singing the songs of one of their favorite artists in concert.

After that, the band took time to smile and revel in what they had just seen and heard. The men could be moved, after all.

Lead vocalist and keyboardist Danny O'DonoghueLead vocalist and keyboardist Danny O'Donoghue (JP/Aditya Bhagas)

“To be honest, we haven’t seen a crowd that sang every single word of that song. That was amazing,” vocalist O’Donoghue commented on stage as he and the rest of the band prepared for their next song, still feeling visibly amazed by it all.

While “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” was the highlight of the show, the packed crowd inside the hall sang along to almost every song in their set. Fans also sang along with all their might when the band played “Rain” and “Breakeven”, both of which are staples on Indonesian radio.

Heavy airplay on radio and shopping malls contributed to the band’s immense popularity in Indonesia. The Script is one of three bands that has had its songs played in malls frequently and intensely (the other two being Coldplay and Maroon 5), and because Indonesians, Jakartans particularly, spend most of their time in malls, they are exposed to The Script’s music whether they like it or not.

This popularity was even addressed by O’Donoghue himself.

“The reason we are here tonight is directly because of you guys. You asked us online to come a lot of times, and we tried and here we are. It was all because you asked first,” he said.

The Script played in Jakarta before, in 2011 and 2015.

One notable event during the show was the sudden appearance of a small stage behind the crowd, where the band unexpectedly performed two songs while being completely surrounded by screaming, jumping fans.

Lead guitarist Mark SheehanLead guitarist Mark Sheehan (JP/Aditya Bhagas)

The rush to get around them turned into a virtual stampede as members of the band had to be helped out of the crowd and off the small stage to avoid being harmed by the blindly charging crowd. Those who were hit though, were unlucky enough to feel as if a pack of phone-wielding wildebeests knocked them down.

But the band took it in good stride, although they did not expect the intensity of the crowd. It was a night of unexpectedness for both the crowd and the band.

For the crowd, it was the small stage and O’Donoghue taking a life-threatening plunge into the rabid Indonesian crowd and walking through it (all the while wearing a batik shirt), and for the band, it was the intensity of the crowd singing to almost every song, as well as their intense reception from the moment they walked on stage.

Drummer Glen PowerDrummer Glen Power (JP/Aditya Bhagas)

O’Donoghue is a well-crafted singer, despite having his voice drowned out frequently by the crowd. It is not hard to remember that he was once a judge and mentor on The Voice UK for its first two seasons, and managed to guide his mentees on the show to the runner-up and the champion positions. His voice achieves the high standard of pop rock singers by being smoother and sounding less forced than OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder and more pleasant to hear in long periods than Maroon 5’s Adam Levine.

The Script is a band made for the radio, passive ears and passive consumption. Think about them as a “bandified” version of Westlife. That is the key to success right there, and look where it got them. Selling out stages across the world and humbled by the reception for their music from parts of the world they would never expect.

And as O’Donoghue said on stage, “There really is no other crowd than Indonesia.”