Live Review: Hanson – Sunday 5th June 2011 – Kings College, London, UK
Hanson first came to the our attention back in 1997 with a round of hits that have gone on to be some of the defining moments in nineties music. With three spritely lads in a video talking about Mmmbop-ing their songs brought out the child in the adults and the screaming teenage girls in the rest of us. For several years we couldn’t escape seeing the brotherly trio on the cover of every issue of Smash Hits and Top of the Pops as well as every music channel going at the time. Sporting legions of fans and long locks of hair to match the then pubescent trio smashed music charts around the globe with their infectious brand of power pop.
It’s been 14 years since the mammoth breakthrough record Middle Of Nowhere leapt from out from nowhere and heart throbs Taylor, Isaac and Zac Hanson have grown up a lot since those days. Though the bands debut scored numerous sits including MmmBop, Where’s The Love, I Will Come To You and Weird, the proceeding three albums never quite repeated the bands debut success however as the years went on the boys matured into a powerful songwriting collective and are these days running things their way. Minus the shackles and constraints of a record label, in particularly one which seen the bands efforts rejected an astonishing eighty time, Hanson have now set forth their glossy new independent release titled Shout It Out. The record sees the evolving of a songwriting brotherhood who have mastered the art of their craft.
To coincide with the release of the new album Hanson announced a five night residency at London’s Kings College. Over each of the five evenings the band are set to perform each of their five records within the intimate surroundings of the small college space.
Having recently sat down with Hanson I was invited down to the bands first night where their signature record, Middle Of Nowhere, was to be performed in order and in it’s entirety.
Arriving at the venue at just shy of 9pm we made our way to the bar and were amazed at the venues tight packing. The space was filled from top to bottom with the staircases overflowing with scantily clad teenage girls and clearly dedicated followers fronting their newly purchased your t-shirts and fan club laminates.
As the band emerged the crowd went crazy. Looking both amazed and honored at the turn out and audience reaction after all these years the band set straight into the opening Thinking Of You. With Taylor on keyboard, Isaac on guitar and youngest of the siblings Zachary on drums the band went straight into the set with enthusiasm and energy.
The bands signature hit MmmBop was next and gave the audience a chance to erupt into a choreographed backing of the singles catchy chorus. The band gave an extended version of the track and after all these years the song sounded undated with all three brothers still able to reach those high notes with ease and precision.
As the song drew to a close Taylor commented on ‘what a great day in London’ it was with an avid American fan replying ‘great day to see Hanson’ showing that the band are every bit as popular these days as they were in their heyday.
Weird was offered with superb delivery as we got a taste of the records first ballad. The hook laden chorus was complimenting to the remainder of the set list with each of the band showcasing their vocal talents whether it be taking on the lead vocals or the letting loose on some powerfully emotive harmonies, something that was notable throughout the gig.
Further balladry in the form of the following Speechless, with its haunting, bluesy beats took over with front man Taylor showing his mastered musicianship as well as reflexes as he leapt to grab hold of his mic as it swung around and almost fell into the front row of the crowd. This didn’t stop the singer from carrying on unphased and completing the track with the mic balancing against his keyboard.
The bands follow up to MmmBop, Where’s The Love, another of the bands signature numbers was up next and got the crowd into a frenzy. I have to say I always loved this song and hearing the band perform it live as flawlessly as I witnessed as something else and the highlight of the night. Within the track we also got to see an energized Isaac going trigger happy on his guitar is a powerful solo.
Yearbook was given a nod after it was noted by Taylor that the song had only been performed for the first time live on stage at the records tenth anniversary gig four years earlier. The track gave us a central ballad with a dark piano intro and an eerie red lit stage before ‘ode to the club scene’ monster Look At You gave drummer Zac a chance to admit how the song ‘channels my inner eleven year old’ in which the crowd gave a rapturous applause.
Though the band rely heavily on middle brother and front man Taylor to provide the bulk of the lead vocals on their records we didn’t go without seeing brothers Isaac and Zac take on the role of front-man with confidence and vigour. Zac’s performance on the beautifully offered Lucy showcased his pitch perfect falsetto peaks while older brother Isaac’s performance on the uptempo, stadium fitting A Minute Without You made the crowd go absolutely wild and showed that both brothers are every bit as capable of fronting the collective as Taylor. Isaac and Taylor also showed off their skills within Madeline as they passed the role of lead vocals to one another in the verses while Zac provided some sweet upper octave crooning that filled in the number to a studio quality.
With the closing of With You In Your Dreams which the crowds participation in an anthemic ‘nah nah’ sequence was prompted by Taylor and the studio albums hidden bonus track, Man From Milwaukee, guided in by Isaac’s 21 second countdown as homage to the albums break between final and bonus track the band thanked the crowd and left the stage. Within minutes they were back to perform a single track encore cover of the Spencer Davis Groups 1966 hit, Gimme Some Lovin‘, before exiting for a final time.
We were pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm and power of Hanson at last nights performance of Middle Of Nowhere. Not only did it bring back countless nostalgic moments of when music was as its poppiest but it also showed a band who have moved on from their power pop days but have far from forgotten their roots and the songs that have made them the machine that we witnessed last night. Vocally and musically the band were as tight as ever.
Thinking Of You
Where’s The Love
Look At You
I Will Come To You
A Minute Without You
With You In Your Dreams
Man From Milwaukee
Gimme Some Lovin’ – (Spencer Davis Group cover)