Live review: Hanson, Amos' Southend (11/20/2013)

By | November 21, 2013

Creative Loafing Charlotte

Amos’ Southend
Nov. 20, 2013

Going to Hanson’s show at Amos’ Southend on Nov. 20, 2013, felt like entering a time warp back to 1997. The only thing different, in fact, would be that the screaming teenage girls have turned into screaming adults who have dragged their husbands along for the ride.

The best part? Those “dragged” husbands usually catch the hysteria in the room the moment Hanson begins its concert. Nowhere else will you see so many straight men dancing and screaming for other men – maybe at a football game.

What immediately comes to most people’s mind when you say “Hanson” is one of two things – “Those ‘MMMbop’ guys?” or “They’re still together?” Because they are brothers, breaking up would never be a smart career move, but let the masses think what they will.

Nevertheless, people who immediately judge them based on one poppy, infectious hit from 1997 (that some of them still listen to as a guilty pleasure) are the same reason Hanson is one of the most underrated bands performing today.

Despite being grown family men in their late 20s and 30s and having released six incredibly diverse albums since that dreaded “MMMbop” phase, Hanson still isn’t in the public eye.

These guys (Taylor, Zac and Isaac) are still some of the most talented vocalists and musicians to grace a stage, but since their Grammy winning debut album, Middle of Nowhere, which spawned monster hit “MMMbop,” it’s as though the group has been forced under the radar.

Despite having sold 16 million records worldwide, the group left Island Def Jam Records in 2001 to release their music independently. They created their own label, 3CG Records, and subsequently released four albums over the years, all of which have found massive success amongst their fan base, many of whom have stuck with them from the beginning.

Seeing them live? It’s honestly like going to a church; you’re surrounded by a packed room full of people that seem to be going through what can only be described as a religious experience. There’s crying, screaming, dancing, laying on of hands – everything you’d expect a cult following to incite. But in this church, the spirit is found in three musicians who much of the female audience had planned to, somehow, marry back in 1997.

The group is touring to support its newest album, Anthem, which continues the much-matured Hanson sound blending big band music with the trio’s trademark harmonizing and soulful sound. On stage, the brothers have always been rock stars without trying and even as their live shows progress into mixture of live rock, soul and Motown, it’s their raw talent which brings fans to their knees – and has them camping out for days in anticipation.

Of course, you can’t have a 21-year career and not explore your entire catalog. Hanson played the majority of Anthem but paced it with old fan favorites. When the band played “Where’s the Love,” the room exploded. For an acoustic “Penny and Me,” the noise generated by the crowd threatened to overwhelm the song’s sweetness. No matter how obscure or old the song, the crowd sang every single word. It’s clear Hanson fans have the entire discography memorized.

In the midst of their set, the guys went even more old school, showcasing their ability to harmonize by stripping the set down to just the three of them and a microphone a capella, blending their voices together seamlessly.

Charlotte fans got a special treat for the band’s encore with the approaching Christmas season: a never-played-in-Charlotte live rendition of the 1997 Hanson Christmas album, Snowed In.

With more than 100 songs in its arsenal to choose from, Hanson typically picks fan favorites for the encores. The band rarely manages to surprise fans who have come to 10, 15 or 20 live shows – but the Christmas album? Never have the screams been louder. Especially when opener David Ryan Harris, a singer-songwriter remniscent of John Mayer, came out to play a classic like “Merry Christmas, Baby.”

Well done, boys. Even after all these years, despite not getting the credit you deserve from the music industryfor your incredible, raw talent, you still manage to whip a crowd of hundreds into a frenzy with one note.

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