Becky Hill, who first came to people’s attention as a contestant on The Voice, came on stage a little after 7.30 and to a rapidly filling arena, sung, danced and shimmied her way through her considerable catalogue of songs, however there were times when she was overpowered by her backing singers, and didn’t quite manage to get the crowd as involved and responsive as she would have no doubt liked. “Wish You Well” was the biggest hit of her set, however even that struggled to get the audience singing along at a particularly loud volume, but by the time she headed off stage, wishing everyone a great night and telling the crowd to enjoy The Script, she’d certainly won over a few more fans who could well make up much of her Manchester date audience when she heads out on her own tour in the Autumn.
As the lights went down again, the noise in the arena went up and, with stars shimmering and a moon hovering high, to a thunderous roar of appreciation and loud cheers, The Script made their way on stage and kicked off their set with the opening number from their latest and number 1 album, Sunsets and Full Moons, “Something Unreal” before running straight into “Superheroes” which had everyone bouncing their hands up and down and singing along. In recent times and on recent tours “Talk You Down” has often been left off the setlist, so needless to say, when Danny played the first notes on the piano, the response was immediate and loud. Mark then took to his mic and, before the band began “If You Don’t Love Yourself”, said: “I read something recently that said, in a world where you can be anything, be kind. I think all too often too many of us forget to be kind to ourselves, and that’s what this song’s about.”
Given the absolutely awful weather across the country lately – in particular the shedloads of rain that has flooded many region, it was not that surprising to hear the band make a quip about it before launching into “Rain” itself, which saw several fans’ umbrellas pop up around the arena. The most unexpected moment of the night came in the form of “Good Ol’ Days” being mashed with “Jump Around”, which scores of people duly went on to do. It perhaps shouldn’t have worked quite as well as it did, but the crowd certainly seemed to enjoy it and the smiles on the band’s faces proved they did too.
Bringing back the much loved “call an ex” segment that leads into “Nothing”, Danny headed down the steps off the stage, took the phone off a girl named Paula in the front row, who had called her ex, Craig, made his way back to the stage and performed the song, phone to his ear, with the crowd happily, and loudly, singing/shouting “Nothing” at Danny’s instruction, before he ended the song, and the call with two simple words: “Payback – mwah!”
The emotional “If You Could See Me Now” holds extra poignancy given that Danny sadly lost his mum last year, and the performance reflected that poignancy that had several people, certainly near me, decidedly teary-eyed. “No Man Is An Island”, which saw an impressive drum solo from Glen, also resulted in something now commonly known as crowd control, and seeing thousands of people put their arms around the people next to them and jump eight places to the left, and then to the right is quite a sight to behold.
Making their way into the crowd seated on Mark’s side of the arena, before they began “Run Through Walls” Danny took a moment to speak about how important the people who are there for us all, through the good times and especially the bad are, and he waved his hand out across the crowd adding: “You guys have been there for us through it all.” During the performance, dozens of faces – members of The Script Family – were displayed on the giant screen at the back of the stage, and as the song ended, the screen froze to display them all. Danny looked at the screen, then back out at the crowd. “You guys – the people on that screen – are the real heroes. Give it up for the people on there” Danny said, to which the audience responded with a loud cheer and rapturous applause. They then followed up with the balladesque “Never Seen Anything Quite Like You.”
From there, the band moved to the B stage, towards the back of the arena, much to the delight of those stood and seated there. They kicked off their three song mini set with “Science & Faith.” “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved”, as to be expected went down a storm, and resulted in applause so loud and long-lasting it felt as if the entire place was vibrating. “Though this is only the third night in, it feels like the last – this is incredible. This is a moment I’m gonna take to my grave with me,” Danny said, running a hand through his hair and looking out at everyone, taking the moment in. “The hairs on the back of my neck are standing up.” They closed out their time there with “Millionaires” before heading back to the main stage.
“Hot Summer Nights”, “Six Degrees of Separation” and “Hall Of Fame” were then played in quick succession before the band left the stage for several minutes, causing the arena to echo with the stomping of feet and loud cheers until they re-emerged. For the encore, the band began with “The Last Time”, followed by fan-favourite “Breakeven” and then closed out their set with “For The First Time”, Danny calling on the crowd to sing along to the “Oh these times are hard” part. As the song drew to a close, the band took their traditional group bow, before Danny looked out at the thousands before him, smiling and said: “In a world where there’s so much fake shit, we made something real here tonight.” They then made their way down the steps, along the front row and, with Danny – and the crowd – once again singing “Oh these times are hard…” the band disappeared from view for the final time, leaving behind an audience of thousands who were buzzing from a brilliant night.