Hanson 5 of 5 London
Legends Hanson returned to the UK recently with a new album in the form of "Shout It Out" and 5 shows in 5 nights playing their 5 albums in their entirety. The shows were so popular they sold out very quickly, with girls turning up outside the venue hoping someone would be selling a spare ticket, which was doubtful.
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It's been over a decade since the brothers made history with their own unique brand of American pop rock, which began with the infectious breakout single 'Mmmbop' and has seen the guys grow into one of the best pop/rock bands in the world.
Night 1: Middle of Nowhere
Hanson turned back the hands of time with these performances. Although 'Middle of Nowhere' is actually the band's third album, behind the indie releases 'Boomerang' and 'Mmmbop', it was the first to be released on a major label back in 1997. It has been 14 years since the lads put down and released the tracks from 'Middle of Nowhere' and for this evening they performed them in their entirety.
Hanson were certainly on "Hanson Time", a term created since the guys often broadcast late on their online web streams and also tonight, however this didn't effect the crowd's reaction. As they guys performed the stunning 'A Minute Without You,' it was confirmed there are in fact 1440 hours in a Hanson day.
After seeing the lads perform on numerous occasions in London over the past 14 years, there are a couple of tracks that have never performed. This is the first time 'Speechless' and 'Yearbook' have been played in the UK, so seeing them performed live for the first time 14 years after they were recorded was a pleasure to see and certainly made the crowd recall why they have been following the musical talents of these brothers for so many years. Once the eerie 'Yearbook' had finished and the crowd were done with yelling "Where Did Johnny Go?" the brothers joked that after 15 years, Johnny still hasn't been found.
As well as hearing favourites such as the singles 'Mmmbop', 'Where's The Love', 'Thinking Of You' and the beautiful ballads 'Weird' and 'I Will Come To You,' which had the crowd screaming along to each and every word, the lads gave their vocals a good strong churning to harmonise within the beautiful 'Madeline' and 'Look At You', where Zac attempted to channel his inner 11 year old to keep the track as close to the original recording as possible. They also added a sentimental value to 'With You In Your Dreams', which left the crowd speechless (no song pun intended) and full of emotion.
After a quick countdown by Isaac from 13 to 21, the show headed into its corker, the hidden track 'Man From Milwaukee'. Zac gave it his all and managed his "mother bird calling baby bird" bit without a megaphone. With the album done and dusted, the guys offered up a treat with a performance of 'Gimme Some Lovin', a track they performed back in 1998 on the Albertane Tour. This was the perfect way to close the first night of what was to be an amazing week.
Over the past 14 years there have been obvious vocal changes for both Taylor and Zac. When performed live, some vocal contributions on tracks like 'Lucy' appearing much deeper adding much more maturity to the song, while still allowing the crowd to relive what it felt like when they first heard these tracks.
Hanson's popularity exploded during the summer of 1997 and this album sold an excess of over 10 million copies across the world. Packed with enthusiasm, energy and an electric atmosphere emitted from the crowd, it was a great return to see Hanson back on stage and performing their number one album in its entirety.
Night 2: This Time Around
Three years after the release of the first mainstream Hanson album came the follow up release 'This Time Around'. Although it was not as commercially known as 'Middle of Nowhere', it was a huge hit with Hanson fans and gave the bands sound a little more rock and a little less teeny pop, which night two of the London 5 of 5 Tour demonstrated extremely well.
As well as performing some familiar hits such as the singles 'If Only', to which Taylor wrapped his lips around the harmonica and the albums title track, there were some incredibly tender moments like 'Save Me' and 'Love Song', active performances of the opener 'You Never Know', 'Runaway Run' and 'Dying to be Alive' and then the all out blast of 'Can't Stop' and the beautiful up tempo ballad 'Sure About It'.
Although the album is outstanding and the entire night went wonderfully, there were a few moments that stood out. 'Hand in Hand' saw Isaac singing about a cheating girlfriend and he put all his frustration, anger and passion into making it an unforgettable performance. Zac's lead track for the evening, 'Wish That I Was There' was a little rocky to start since the microphone chose that moment to fall, causing the first verse to sound raw but still brilliant. There were two exceptionally memorable performances, which happened to be two of the album's most differing tracks. 'In The City' gave Taylor time out from behind the keys to jump alongside the audience, singing his heart out and asking the crowd "do you love me?" which of course came with a scream of a response and 'A Song To Sing', the beautiful concluding number and possibly the most stunning piano ballad you'll ever hear. This one had all three brothers up front with Taylor tinkering away.
With an intro by Fern Cotton and a conclusion like this, the only disappointment of the evening was the lack of an encore.
Night 3: Underneath
Night three of Hanson 5 of 5 London was dedicated to 'Underneath', the bands first release on their own independent label 3CG Records. Fans first got a taste for this release when Hanson toured acoustically back in 2003 to demonstrate some of the tunes floating around for the album. For this evening though, the band was back live and electric on their most ambitious night yet.
It began with 'Strong Enough To Beak' and went on to be the most exciting night of Hanson 5 of 5 London so far. It is not very often you get to see Taylor come out from behind the piano but for 'Dancing In The Wind', he stepped away from his safety zone and took centre point with guitar in arms to sing beautifully. He took to guitar once again on 'When You're Gone', which demonstrated his talents as a guitarist as well as a pianist, playing beautifully on both upbeat as well as mellower songs.
A few tracks in particular got the crowd excited and singing a little louder; the singles 'Penny and Me', 'Lost Without Each Other' as well as 'Get Up And Go', 'Crazy Beautiful' and 'Hey'. 'Deeper' gave Isaac his opportunity to demonstrate his vocals and they were stunning. Opposite these upbeat and electric songs there were the mellower ones that silenced the crowd like the title track, 'Misery; and 'Believe'. 'Broken Angel' was an absolute delight to watch being formed. Zac took front stage on keys for this one and Taylor took a step back to the drums to let his younger brother have the spotlight, which being at the back he doesn't get too often. This moment returned when he sang 'LullaBelle', which made the room so quiet you could hear a pin drop.
It appeared this night was too much for one young lady however, who needed security. I'm sure with Zac singing an impromptu "help that girl" song made her feel a little better, that is if she heard it. Between the guys swapping instruments, which are a rarity, and girls needing the securities assistance, 'Underneath' was another smash hit performance.
Night 4: The Walk
'The Walk' was the second release from the bands 3CG label and reflects the maturing and growing the lads have done over the years. It also reflects their awareness of the state of the world around them, as from this moment Hanson have been promoting an awareness of poverty and AIDS in Africa by asking fans to join them in 1-mile barefoot walks, to represent what a typical African child goes through on a daily basis. This can be felt throughout the album, particularly on the track 'Great Divide', which was recorded with a school choir in South Africa; unfortunately this couldn't be felt at the performance.
In its entirety, 'The Walk' gave another night of energetic and entertaining performances, but it did have the occasional hiccup. On 'Been There Before' Isaac broke his acoustic guitar and other tracks saw Taylor's microphone go flying and the bassists instrument giving up sending him to the keys to complete the set in bass tones.
Just like the previous nights each brother had his moment of taking the lead. Isaac gave it his all on the punchy 'Watch Over Me', Zac on 'Fire on the Mountain' and Taylor on the majority of other tracks. Each performance was stunning from the up tempo likes of 'Running Man', 'Something Going Around' and 'Blue Sky' to the mellow ballads, 'One More', 'Your Illusion' and 'Go' and those that sit perfectly in the middle like 'Georgia'.
When the band burst into song with 'Tearing It Down', Zac screaming the lyrics while not being able to keep still in his seat, the crowd went wild and screamed louder than ever before. There were actually a few moments of concern that Zac would headbutt the microphone in front of him. Then the complete opposite happened when Zac took his centre stage moment for the title track, taking to the keys once again caused the crowd to become as quiet as mice and as stunned as a child at Christmas.
One of the finest moments of this gig was Taylor's indication of "one more song" as the lads went to leave the stage. They were feeling down about the technical difficulties that occurred during the set and made up for it with a vocal rendition of 'Change in my Life' and it was the perfect ending to an unforgettable evening. It was a shame to see 'The Walk' come to an end, but excitement set in for 'Shout It Out'.
Night 5: Shout It Out
It seemed this week flew by with 5 nights showcasing music from 5 of the Hanson albums, concluding with new material from their release 'Shout It Out'. These guys have been playing music for over a decade and this new material shows how much more the band has to give.
Opening with the crowd singing along with the "Shout It Out" line of the up-tempo 'Waiting For This', the guys progressed into an astonishing evening. They had a rocking time as they performed recent single 'Give A Little' and the upbeat and danceable 'Thinking Bout Something'. These two tracks in particular had the crowd moving in every direction, bounding, singing and dancing their ass off.
This albums performance saw Isaac take a step back from singing lead on any of the tracks and let his two younger brothers sing lead on all these tunes. Zac had the opportunity to take an upbeat approach to 'And I Waited' and 'Musical Ride' while adding a beautiful tenderness to 'Use Me Up' to which he took to the piano and Taylor and Isaac moved to the left to sing this beautiful piano ballad. Even the crowd got the opportunity to scream along with 'These Walls', 'Voice in the Chorus', 'Make It Out Alive', 'Kiss Me When You Come Home' and 'Carry You There' while standing back and listening intently as the brothers sang on others.
As they have with each album performance before, the lads concluded with another slow number, this one being 'Me, Myself and I', a beautiful piano ballad where Taylor sang and played piano and Zac and Isaac stood up front. As with nearly all previous evenings, the night didn't end with the last track on the album, there were two bonus tracks, which included the fan favourite from the 'Live and Electric' album 'Rock and Roll Razorblade.'
It was a brilliant week and Hanson truly know how to treat their fans. They are welcomed back to the UK at anytime, and it sounds as though they are taking up that offer and coming back in the autumn and I for one can't wait!
To view all photos taken during this set click here. There are 1 available.