LIVE: THE SCRIPT @ MANCHESTER ARENA – FEBRUARY 3RD 2018 116

After a hugely successful mini-tour back in August and September ahead of fifth studio album Freedom Child’s release, it was really only a matter of time before The Script found their way back to the place they truly feel at home – on stage. But, before they delighted the thousands of die-hard fans, some of whom had queued since 2am to get the best spots at the barrier, who had sold-out Manchester Arena, it was up to Ella Eyre to metaphorically, and given the biting February cold, literally help warm them up ahead of the main event.

Ella walked on stage to a rapidly filling arena and for the next half hour, danced, shimmied and sang her way into the hearts of many before her. Vocally, she may not have been the strongest female to have graced the arena stage, but she certainly proved herself to be one of the most energetic as she encouraged the crowd to sing and dance along, especially to closing number and smash hit “Came Here For Love” which went down a storm.

After an interval of around half an hour, during which time a four sided curtain shrouded the B stage towards the back of the arena, the lights dimmed once more and, almost simultaneously, the cheering proceeded to get louder and louder. As the curtain fell away to the opening notes of “Superheroes”, the band, drummer Glen, guitarist Mark and front-man Danny, complete with newly dyed blonde locks, made their first appearance before their ecstatic audience, with Danny bouncing up and down brimming with the energy of a man half his age, but with a vocal that’s never sounded better.

Having told their fans via Twitter that this new tour was to be very interactive, following “Rock The World”, the band proceeded to prove said comment via “Paint The Town Green” and with Glen armed with a mini drum and Mark leading the way with his guitar, the band made their way through the packed crowd down to the front and onto the main stage.

“It’s Not Right For You” offered up the first real opportunity for the thousands packed into the venue to show off their vocal skills, and they seized said opportunity happily as their “oh-oh-oh’s” echoed around the vast space, before they earned themselves rapturous applause from Glen and bassist Ben in particular for their efforts during “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved.”

As Danny took a seat at the piano that had by now appeared on stage, he began to play the intro to “Wonders”, a track from the bands’ latest album which had already proven itself (given the Twitter reaction it’s received in recent months) to be a new fan favourite, so needless to say, as the thousands present finally heard it live for the first time, they were more than a little happy. One individual close to the front was likely even more so, when, mid-song, having left the piano, Danny proceeded to reach over, grab their drink and take a swig of it. The trio then continued to power their way through their set, delivering hit song after hit song – “Six Degrees Of Separation” and “Nothing” being just two, with applause and cheers rarely far from their ears. “If You Could See Me Now” meanwhile had many audience members, myself included, on the verge of tears, and the emotion in Danny’s voice, and in his eyes, was clear for all to hear and see.

“No Man Is An Island” had practically everyone in attendance (at least those I could see), including those in the seats, at Danny’s instruction, placing their left arm around the shoulder of the person next to them and taking eight steps to the left and eight to the right in time with the music – it made for quite a sight, one which has seen the crowd since be referred to, rather humorously, as “penguins.”

Continuing to be extremely (and surprisingly) interactive during with the crowd their set, the band then appeared in the middle of the seating area, surrounded by standing fans, and proceeded to play renditions of “If You Ever Come Back” and the beautifully melodic “Never Seen Anything Quite Like You”, before, as Mark and Glen made their way back to the main stage, Danny continued to delight those in the tiers by singing “The Energy Never Dies” as he made his way through the crowd back towards his bandmates.

It’s not every day you see fans hold up umbrellas indoors, but that’s exactly what some did during the performance of “Rain”, the song that rounded off the main set. Having left the stage for a few minutes, during which the sound of thousands of stamping feet and rapidly increasing in volume cheers echoed from all corners of the venue, the band then returned for their encore, kicking it off with “No Good In Goodbye”, closely followed by “Breakeven.”

With tonight being the first show the band have played in the arena since 2015, and following the bombing last year, it was touching to then see Danny introduce on stage the Parrs Wood High School Harmony Choir, who performed with Ariana Grande at the One Love Manchester concert.

He then went on to give an emotive and passionate speech about freedom:

“We all stand united together Manchester. That’s what this album is about; freedom. The freedom of expression, to love who you wanna love, to be who you wanna be, to say what you wanna say. Have no fear. Never fear! Now to me, music has always been the one true religion, because it accepts you no matter who you are, what colour, what creed, what sex, what shape, what nationality…it cares not. It’s always been there for me since I was young, and I’m guessing, by looking at all of you, it was there for you too.”

He called on everyone present to take out their phones and record the moment that was unfolding, inviting them to make a memory with him and the band. That moment, with thousands of lights filling the arena, created what Danny referred to as “a whole constellation of stars” of which he said, “every one of those is a portal to the outside world, and we’re going to give them a moment to remember.” As he asked if Manchester was ready to “make a moment”, the roaring cheer he received in response told him the answer was an emphatic ‘yes.’ From there “Hall Of Fame”, with the choir adding an extra special something to the performance, closed out the set, ending it on an undeniable high.

With over a dozen more dates still left for the band to perform on this leg of the tour, and likely scores more yet to be announced, tonight The Script not only entertained those before them, but also got those with tickets for upcoming shows, and following the show on social media, even more hyped up. They might have been away for close to three years, but given the energy and passion with which they performed each and every song, together with the reaction of the crowd, tonight in Manchester, it was like they never went away at all.

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RJ WORD TALKS “WHAT YOU NEED”, SOCIAL MEDIA & HIS DREAM SHOW LINE-UP 35

Having just released the video to his new single “What You Need”, RJ Word is certainly well on his way to making his mark on the music industry. Currently working on a number of singles, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with RJ to chat all things inspiration, ultimate compliments and what he’d most like to be remembered for.

TITL: Has music always been your ambition, or, growing up, did you consider exploring other avenues? Ultimately, who or what made you realise that music was the right path for you?

RJ Word: Growing up I studied music and acting. I still consider myself an actor, it’s just not my primary focus at the moment. Music gives me more freedom to create. A song can be anywhere from 90 seconds to 10 minutes and can be made considerably faster than a film. Also, you just can’t beat that feeling music gives you. There’s nothing like it.

TITL: Which bands and artists are you most influenced and inspired by and is there one in particular you might say you sound similar to?

RJ: Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake have all influenced me a lot, but hopefully I don’t sound too much like any of them.

TITL: Is there a story behind your new track “What You Need”?

RJ: I wanted to make a disco inspired record with some more modern rhythmic elements. We came up with this.

TITL: Are there any EP/album plans in the works, and if so, what can you tell me about how they’re coming along?

RJ: Just working on more singles at the moment, but that’s going really well. I have a couple songs I’m really excited about.

TITL: How easy or hard do you find the song-writing process? Do you find it often depends on the subject matter and other such issues?

RJ: Some days it can be a little tough to get started. But once you’re in the zone it’s just fun, unless you’re writing something about a heartbreak that just happened.

TITL: In your mind, what makes a song truly great and which song would you say is the greatest ever written?

RJ: It’s half lyrics/melody and half production, so both have to be spot on to make an excellent record. The songs that stand out in my memory are the ones that do something different and unconventional. That’s where the magic happens. It’d be impossible for me to name a favorite.

TITL: Do you have any upcoming performance/tour plans?

RJ: Not right now. I’m mostly focusing on writing and recording for the next couple of months.

TITL: If you could perform with three bands or artists, who can be living or dead, who would they be?

RJ: That’s a tough one. Most of my idols are legendary performers and to be up next to them would be really intimidating. But my dream set would be to do a show with MJ and have Quincy Jones conducting a full orchestra live along with us. Depending on if you count the musicians in the orchestra, that’d be way more or one less than 3 acts.

TITL: What has been the nicest thing someone’s written/posted about you and your music and what would the ultimate compliment be?

RJ: When people say online that one of my songs is the best they’re ever heard it’s always nice. But I’m so critical of my work that it’s hard for me to seriously take that to heart. The ultimate compliment would be for someone I really respect in the industry to just say they liked it.

TITL: Both personally and professionally, how do you feel about social media? What impact is it having on your career and your ability to reach an audience, and do you believe it’s possible for upcoming bands and artists today to achieve success without it?

RJ: It’s been amazing tool for me professionally but something I have never used personally. I like my privacy too much. Being able to share my music with the world and grow a fan base, the way I have, can be directly accredited to it. So yeah, it’s very important to me. I think it’s still possible for an upcoming act to blow up without using it directly. But if their fan base is growing they’ll be using socials to talk about them. So at least indirectly it’ll be used. It’s a big part of how the world today communicates.

TITL: Finally then, five-ten years from now, what do you hope to have achieved from your music career? What bucket list items do you want to have ticked off and if you could be remembered for one thing when it comes to your music, what would it be?

RJ: I’d love to have toured the world, have some records I’m really proud of and have worked with some of my idols. I have no clue what I’ll be remembered for yet. At the moment my goal is to make what’s on the radio musical again. Getting away from all the loop based tracks and repetitive samples. I’d be okay with being remembered for that.

Check out the video for “What You Need” below and to keep up to date with RJ Word, visit his website, give his page a like on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.

SUPERSTAR DJ AVICII FOUND DEAD AGED 28 38

The Swedish-born producer and DJ known as Avicii has been found dead in Oman.

Publicist Diana Baron said in a statement that the 28-year-old DJ, born Tim Bergling, was in Muscat, Oman.

“The family is devastated and we ask everyone to please respect their need for privacy in this difficult time,” the statement said.

Avicii was a pioneer of the contemporary Electronic Dance Movement and a rare DJ capable of worldwide arena tour. He won two MTV Music Awards, one Billboard Music Award and earned two Grammy nominations. His biggest hit was “Levels.”

His death comes just days after he was nominated for a Billboard Music Award for top dance/electronic album for his EP “Avicii (01).”

His hits include “Wake Me Up!” ”The Days” and “You Make Me.” He is the subject of the 2017 Levan Tsikurishvil documentary “Avicii: True Stories.”

Avicii had in the past suffered acute pancreatitis, in part due to excessive drinking. After having his gallbladder and appendix removed in 2014, he canceled a series of shows in attempt to recover. He quit touring in 2016 but continued making music in the studio.

“It’s been a very crazy journey. I started producing when I was 16. I started touring when I was 18. From that point on, I just jumped into 100 percent,” Avicii told Billboard magazine in 2016.

“When I look back on my life, I think: whoa, did I do that? It was the best time of my life in a sense. It came with a price – a lot of stress a lot of anxiety for me – but it was the best journey of my life.”