[Lots more great photos at the source!]
Review and Photography by Jim Chapin
On Taylor! on Zac! on Isaac! On Blitzen! Hanson brought their Wintry Mix Tour to Emo’s Austin on Sunday night, December 8, 2019. The show featured plenty of ear candy with a mix of classic Christmas and holiday songs, fan favorites and a few special presents in the form of brand new music from the band’s forthcoming 7th studio album, “Against the World.”
The brothers are big fans of Christmas, having two albums dedicated to the holiday in their discography. The first “Snowed In” was released in 1997, early in the band’s career. The second, “Finally It’s Christmas” dropped just a couple of years ago.
Prior to showtime, Emo’s was buzzing with anticipation. The crowd consisted mostly of women in their 30’s and 40’s, decked out in Hanson T-shirts and accessorized with a variety of Christmas decorations. A few fans I talked to drove three-plus hours in from Houston, and a couple of others all the way from New Orleans – and I am sure these were not rare cases. Hanson’s fans are sure loyal!
And it’s easy to see why. Sure, there is a bit of “MmmBop” fangirl nostalgia, but the primary reason for the band’s continued success is that these guys play upbeat and uplifting pop-rock tunes, and they play them from the heart. The appreciation that they have for their fans is obvious and that love is returned back to them tenfold. They are consummate musicians and performers with solid vocals, tight harmonies, and a strong pop sensibility. And most of all, they are fun to experience!
The show opened with the brothers taking the stage to loud and passionate screaming from the audience. Isaac took his place stage right on electric guitar, Taylor on piano stage left, and Zac sat centerstage behind the drumkit (Zac is returning to drumming on this tour having recovered from a motorcycle accident that broke his collarbone and a few ribs). With the support of two additional musicians on bass and guitar/keys, the band launched into “Finally, It’s Christmas,” immediately setting the tone for the evening.
What followed was pop-rock bliss. Alternating between their better-known numbers and holiday tunes, most everyone in the crowd was singing along at the top of their lungs. During their breakout hit “MmmBop,” it was amazingly difficult to hear the band over the audience!
The brothers graced us with three new tunes – “Don’t Ever Change,” – a guitar-based rocker; “One,” a slower ballad performed solo by Zac at the piano for only the second time (the first performance, he said, was the “prototype.”); and “Annalie,” a bright number that is destined to become another Hanson staple.
They closed the set with a three-song encore that started with Zac doing a quick version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and finished with “In the City.”
The evening also featured musical guests singer-songwriter (and former American Idol contestant) Paul McDonald, and, on their first major tour, Joshua and the Holy Rollers, led by the youngest Hanson brother, Mac Hanson.
These guys were a pleasant surprise. A combination of gritty rock ‘n roll and southern soul, the four-piece band played with celebratory intensity. With smiles plastered on their faces, guitarist Logan Baudean, drummer Joey LaRosa, bass player Al Moore and Singer/guitarist Mac danced, strutted, sweated, and rocked through their eight-song set. So wonderful to see that rock and roll is not dead yet! You definitely want to keep this band on your radar.
All in all, ‘Twas a holiday party that delivered more than it promised. Merry Christmas, indeed!