They sold out Croker - how The Script became Ireland's favourite band
Did anyone believe they would do it – and so quickly? Yesterday it was revealed The Script had sold out 80,000-capacity Croke Park, just days after their June 2015 show at the venue was announced (with all standing tickets snapped up in under an hour).
For any band, stuffing Croker is a feat – however, for The Script the moment must feel all the sweeter, given their long, often arduous journey from failure to triumph.
Indeed, the story of how The Script became Ireland's favourite band – come on, U2, you know it's true - is strewn with heart-ache, cruel reversals and unexpected flourishes of good fortune.
Above all, it speaks to the trio's belief in their music -a belief they have had to hold firm to amid a barrage of critical disdain (journalists, almost to a man and woman, deeming the Dubliners' heartfelt pop and penchant for wearing their hearts on their lapels grounds for public flogging).
Of course, journalistic slings and arrows hold little sway with the public, which has flocked to the group's celebratory sound, to songs that are not afraid to be honest and emotion drenched – even if that sometimes means they verge on cornball. What's wrong with sentimentality if deployed to selfless ends and welded to catchy songs?
The Script will never be cool – for precisely the reason that 'cool' is the last thing they wish to be. As their Croker sell-out proves, they are the people's band, capturing the imagination of the masses here to an extent few rock groups, Irish or otherwise, ever have. Whatever you think of their music - it's fair to say it divides opinion - you have to respect them at that.
And while it may at first inspection seem as if The Script have led a charmed existence, with four hit albums and record sales in the millions, their success was built on rejection and despair. When, in 2001, Danny O'Donoghue and Mark Sheehan, learned that their boyband MyTown had been dropped from their record contract – they had the misfortune to come along just as the boyband bubble popped – truly did they ever think they would see a day when they would sell out Croke Park? You suspect not.
"I remember going through Dublin airport and seeing a rolling news ticker and it had something about an Irish boy band singing a record breaking deal," Sheehan would later say of that period. "And I was like 'oh man, we're really setting ourselves up here'. What I've learned out of that whole experience was to take nothing for granted."
Even after they had put that disappointment behind and, with drummer Glen Power on board, set out on the path of rehabilitation as the guitar-toting Script, bad luck continued to dog these childhood friends. Sheehan's mother died midway through the recording of their first record, O'Donoghue's father shortly before its release. Then, just as they were about to start work on this year's No Sound Without Silence O'Donoghue's beloved mother took ill, requiring the frontman to spend much of the recording process shuttling between Dublin and London (for once there was a happy ending as his mother made a recovery).
You don't survive setbacks like those and become a stadium filling band without a streak of bloody mindedness. Perhaps that's the other reason Ireland loves they Script - in their determination, their underdog spirit, we see a part of ourselves that we admire.
“It’s an old rule: if you get five star reviews as a band you know you’re in trouble,” a characteristically vehement O'Donoghue once told this writer, ruminating on the gulf between The Script's popularity and their low standing with those who presume to pass judgement on music for a living.
“The critics love you — and nobody is going to buy your records. You have your five stars and you’ll sell 10,000 records. We’d rather sell millions. That’s how it is.” When he steps in front of 80,000 fans at Croke Park next summer the truth of that statement will ring louder than ever.