Hanson's showmanship MMMgood
By Lynne Margolis
"I've never, ever, ever seen anything like this." That's all Civic Arena operations manager Andy Gorchov could say after facing the wildest mob of screaming females he's ever encountered in his career.
Girls were moaning, girls were panting, girls were propositioning arena staff members in futile attempts to get closer to the objects of their young-groupie fantasies. And that was even before the trio of brothers causing all the furor had even taken the Uptown auditorium's stage Thursday night.
When they finally did, the serious pandemonium began. Zachary, Taylor and Isaac Hanson did their best to play valiantly through it all, but the nearly non-stop screeching even caused one of them to comment, "You guys really know how to make some noise!" So does Hanson, it turns out.
Take away the zillions of specks of glitter covering a multitude of homemade declarations of love, take away the fan-club laminates and sea of bodies covered in Hanson T-shirts, and you've got a band of enthusiastic, accomplished musicians - who happen to know how to write the heck out of a hook - and deliver it with credibility.
Whether they were faithfully rendering covers of some of rock's greatest tunes - the Rascals' "Good Lovin'," Spencer Davis Group's "Gimme Some Lovin'," the Beatles' "Money," Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love" - or their own originals, they consistently sounded, if not astonishingly outstanding, at least really good. A few misplaced notes here and there, if anything, gave the hour-and-45-minute set more warmth and authenticity.
And except for a little prerecorded percussion boost on "MMMBop," they weren't faking any of it. While the boys were aided by a backing guitarist, bassist and keyboardist, they sang all the vocals, frequently took solos, and delivered an acoustic segment (in a living room setting) that was strictly on their own.
The whole time, they performed with more heart and soul than bands twice their ages (did someone say Pearl Jam?), and in between, they shook hands with the fans in front, spritzed them with Super Soakers or bottled water and generally had a bunch of fun.
While they tend to fill a lot of their songs with the same plaintive "whoooah" delivery, as on "Look at You," or "MMMBop" or "Madeline," it's never less than melodic and often really infectious. And Hanson certainly doesn't stint on paying homage to the early tutelage of those Time-Life Classics, either via the covers or within their own songcraft.
Particularly impressive were the a cappella harmonies of "Stories"; the soulful, heartfelt delivery of "With You In Your Dreams," dedicated to their late grandmother; the pretty "Soldier" and "Where's the Love"; and Ike's gorgeous solo piano and vocal rendition of "More Than Anything" (included on a live disc to be released in November). They're certainly not the Beatles, but Hanson is a great next-generation follow-up. And it's not inconceivable that, if they keep it up - as they swear they always will - they'll one day write another "Yesterday."
Opening was Hanson's Tulsa, Okla., buddies Admiral Twin, another pop group that owes its roots to Motown and the British Invasion. They even performed a decent version of the Hollies' "Bus Stop," and had their own share of fans in the crowd - no doubt those girls who'd seen them earlier on the tour.
This generation clearly has been trained in rock 'n' roll groupiedom by their parents, the generation that helped invent it.
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