“We salute you for any time you’ve had to say you’re a Hanson fan,” Isaac Hanson proclaimed to an adoring crowd, perched on the Melbourne Zoo Twilights stage between trees draped in fairy light.
“Because you’re definitely ‘strong enough to break’,” he finished, standing alongside brothers Taylor and Zac.
For the casual Hanson listener such as myself, this was a confusing line, but the roaring applause from the first of two sold-out Zoo Twilight sessions proved that I was in the minority. Every word of ‘Strong Enough to Break’ was sung loudly by the crowd.
The show was filled with mega fans, those dedicated to the church of Hanson, and the band provided plenty of reason for worship.
This was even more so apparent after the poorly executed set from support act The Million.
Hailing from New South Wales, much of their set – including a cover of Maroon Five’s ‘She Will Be Loved’ sounded like bad karaoke.
Their crowd interaction and pantomime antics, couple with the frontman’s bright red shirt, was reminiscent of a Wiggles concert. Although, perhaps that makes them perfect for a Hanson pre-show, sending me right back to 1996 when I had a crush on Greg the Wiggle and the Hanson brothers still hadn’t finished puberty.
But neither wildly hot, then stormy weather, nor a less-than-stellar support act, could dampen the spirits of the Hanson fans.
As the three-piece took to the stage, the crowd took to their feet, and stayed there for the entirety of the show. Mothers were dancing with their young children, and there was something deeply wholesome about this shared, intergenerational experience.
Any show that galvanises fans with such ease is a pleasure to witness, and I’m not here to rain on anyone’s Hanson parade, there was enough thunderstorming as it was. But objectively speaking, it was hardly a remarkable performance, and not likely to win over any new Hanson fans.
However, it was exactly the performance that the majority of the crowd wanted, and they revelled in every moment.
Hanson’s harmonies were tight and they have lovely tone, and their musicality was impressive, with the piano often reminiscent of Ben Folds, particularly impressive on ‘Waiting For This’, ‘In The City’, and ‘Been There Before’.
Considering Hanson rose to fame and household name status when they were young, it’s impressive that they’ve transitioned into an adult act that holds its own regardless of their teen stardom.
Hanson never feels like they’re trying to recapture the glory of their youth, or merely ride the coattails of nostalgia, even though they definitely could. Even during ‘MMMbop’ there’s a maturity to their performance, evidence that they’ve grown alongside their fanbase, and have evolved their act at the same pace. It’s this apparent sincerity, and love for their music and their fans, that makes Hanson so utterly charming.
I may not be a Hanson convert, but my absence is no loss. The congregation is passionate, and I anticipate many more sold-out evenings for the golden-haired trio.
Highlight: ‘MMMbop’. It really is an absolute tune.
Lowlight: The Million really did let the experience down.
Crowd favourite: ‘Strong Enough to Break’ was a stand out performance, but ‘MMMbop’ was always going to be the true favourite.