LEAH Simpson checks out the Hanson 5of5 shows in London
1of5: Middle of Nowhere (1997) – When I arrive at King College London Theatre, Hanson’s 5of5 home for the next week, I have already mentally prepared myself for the task that is pushing my way through the human barrier – that is otherwise known as ‘Fansons’ – and hitting bullseye (the bar).
However, swinging open the double doors in dramatic fashion, it seems more likely that I’ve stormed into a quiet student union meeting rather than the crazy crowds you might expect to find at a sold-out five-night series of gigs.
A union meeting with Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson that is, a band of brothers who are proud to have sold over 15 million records worldwide.
As I tiptoe past an almost silent – and half empty – audience, I quickly get the gist of what’s going on. A select few music lovers are being let in on the ups, downs, dramas and meanings behind Hanson’s most successful album yet.
|Gig review: Hanson’s 5of5 London/ Zac’s Live From Albertane drums (centre)
Yes, if you’d have been a fanclub member – and had the extra sterling to spare – you could have been chatting about serious musician stuff with three talented musicians every night before the show.
And by the way, serious doesn’t include questions about fictional song characters as one unfortunate attendee found out.
“Where did Johnny go?” asked one young customer in reference to the rarely played live,Yearbook.
“That’s not a real question” answered pianist and middle brother Taylor. Before swiftly moving on to a more intelligent query.
Giving us at least a good hour to crave more of the sought after blonde bombshells – and perhaps our beds – the boys were back to rock the stage and a much fuller crowd.
With minimal verbal filling between tracks, the lads played the first of five albums with gusto – hugely helped by the voices of hundreds more who could not help but more than mime along to an album which spelled out most of their childhoods.
Thirteen tunes later and Hanson return to cover Spencer Davis Group’s Gimme Some Lovin’, a track featured on the OST for the movie Jack Frost and their Live From Albertane record. Alas, Zac’s drum design is explained.
|Gig reviews: Isaac Hanson 50f5 London
Giving the masses time to regain their breath from all the jumping required, Song To Sing saw the youngest and oldest members step out from behind the comfort of their equipment for some smooth crooning.
Accompanied only by keys and a lone lighter from one audience member, the final track was a sombre one which spoke of “looking for a friend to borrow” and “a heart to follow”.
3of5: Underneath (2005) – Probably the record which means the most to the musicians aged 25, 28 and 30, this LP marks the start of a brand new Hanson era. Fresh from parting ways with the major label that helped them shoot to fame, Hanson decided from here on out to establish their own label, 3CG Records and release new music the way they wanted.
|Gig reviews: Taylor Hanson 50f5 London
Thanking the fans for the more direct support they experienced with their third studio album, the boys went on to play UK Top 40 hits Penny and Me and Lost Without Each Other.
In between, non-fan club members were baffled to hear father-of-two, Isaac, dedicate Zac’s lead vocal track, Misery, “to the feline lovers”.
In fact, cat fans look away now – Zac had earlier informed the crowd that the song – written while fighting to gain the rights to their own album – was originally about plotting to kill a former manager’s cat. Understandably the lyrics were changed before making the final cut.
|Gig reviews: Zac Hanson 50f5 London
In what I’m sure had more to do with Taylor’s braces popping off his trousers and less to do with cats being murdered, it surprisingly took longer than the halfway point for a fainting incident to take place. But indeed those who remembered Hansonmania back in the nineties got the ‘Believe’r fever they came for when a girl passed out just before the song was due to be performed.
Needless to say I went home fulfilled.
4of5: The Walk (2007) – In an album described as most similar to This Time Around – probably due to the “thicker vocal chords” produced by the featured choirs – this album takes Hanson back to Africa.
Compelled to visit the Soweto township in South Africa after penning tracks such as Great Divide and Fire On The Mountain, their experience in an area heavily affected by HIV and AIDs pushed them to add further to the LP.
Without a doubt tonight saw the most infectious numbers with dancing-related highlights including Running Man, Blue Sky and uptempo Tearing It Down.
In fact the backing musicians played so hard that William broke the bass! Ever the professional, the problem was fixed by joining Demetrius on the other side of the stage and interpreting his part on the keyboards.
5of5: Shout It Out (2011) – Finishing off an epic series of events night five of five promised to be an emotional one. And if it wasn’t because the crowd of fans – who had flown in from as far and wide as Spain and Australia – knew they probably wouldn’t be seeing Hanson again for yonks. No doubt, the day’s earlier events would have tugged on a few heart strings.
In keeping with Wednesday night’s gig, Hanson took part in a mile-long barefoot walk with fans in London’s Embankment area…in the rain. Desperate to raise funds for needy kids in Africa, the band donated a dollar for every person that completed the journey with them.
So as I sauntered past wet and shivering lines of people on my way out from the over-heated Underground, I could only hope Hanson’s new stuff was worth the wait. For the sake of those queueing at least…
Determined not to catch their death, the audience warmed up to opener Waiting For This and showed they were back to their best by track two, Thinking ‘Bout Something, during which a full on dance routine ensued throughout the surprisingly, male-heavy crowd.
All in all, the trio played an impressive 70+ tracks throughout their London residency. And a 5of5 concept which may not have worked for other artists – due to the lack of surprise element on the song order front – certainly seemed to fulfil the needs of paying punters here.
By Leah Simpson