If there’s one thing you can say about Hanson, it’s that they definitely know how to give their fans their money’s worth. Countless tours, multiple meet and greets and special fan club events have had the Tulsa trio retain the fierce love of their fans beyond their 90s/early 2000s mania and their currentAnthem album tour is no exception to their hard-working ethic. For this reviewer, having only returned to the country the night before made for an interesting experience, battling jet lag in a venue full of screaming fans. Thankfully, I knew I was in for a good show from the band, so I knew what I was getting myself into.
Melbourne’s Adam Martin is supporting tonight and I can’t figure out where I’ve heard his music before. He is an alum of The Voice, though he’s garnered a huge following since for his original material which is impressive. He mixes his set up with a few covers thrown in for good measure and his style reminds me of Passenger or those songwriters who’ve been pounding the pavement with relentless live shows in developing their own entertaining style. Martin knows how to work a crowd and he makes no qualms about being the ‘warm up’ act, playing into the hands of the now antsy hardcore faction of the Hanson crowd.
Hanson last played HQ two years ago, which is fascinating to reflect on, it doesn’t seem like that long ago. I feel like I got the bulk of my pent up childhood/pre-teen emotions out at that show, which worked in my favour tonight. I realised, as the brothers walked out on to the stage, that they differ from so many of the bands myself and those of my generation came up with as they’ve always been focused on (the live front, at least), the live element of their musicianship. There’s no choreographed dances, no well-worn stage moves – if anything, you spend more of your time marvelling at how popular Hanson have remained, despite their latest albums not really achieving much in Australia, in terms of radio play.
They’re obviously a talented bunch of musicians. Isaac takes more of the spotlight this time around (ha ha) I find, showcasing some great blues talent on the guitar throughout the night. The new albumAnthem, like Shout it Out, is a great marriage of pop, funk and punchy R&B. Go on, crucify me. The way songs are interpreted live is undeniably catchy and Hanson have people dancing from the onset. You can’t deny they’re good at what they do.
Zac is battling a chest infection which prevents him from singing much of anything, though he performs with a cheeky grin and mouths lyrics whilst drumming up a storm. Taylor’s solo time onstage sees him pay tribute to Robin Williams with a heartfelt performance of “Be My Own”, earning the screams he surely must be used to now, 20 years into this game. Isaac gets ‘bitter’ with a performance of “Hand In Hand”, though it’s when all three brothers scale things back with “With You in Your Dreams” and “Tonight” that fans completely peak in euphoria levels for the first time in the evening.
The set tonight teeters on the over two hour mark and I can’t imagine how the band is managing to keep on the same enthusiasm level for so long, chest infections and everything considered. Of course, “MMMBop”, “If Only” and “Where’s the Love” generate loud sing alongs, though I enjoyed Hanson’s renditions of “Thinkin ‘Bout Something”, “Get the Girl Back” and “A Minute Without You” just as much. The connection the band has with the Adelaide crowd (and I imagine with the other Australian audiences) is a great one to watch; Isaac recalls the last show here as if it was yesterday, while Taylor is again, a great hype man as well as performer.
They may have aged, become family men and have ditched the baggy outfits, but there is still much about Hanson which has remained the same. The unbridled enthusiasm for decent pop music, an endearing live presence and of course, the ability to whip crowds up into a frenzy.
Oh, and lush hair (cc: Taylor).