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*Washingon Review*

Hanson: What a Scream!

By Richard Harrington Washington Post Staff Writer Friday, July 3, 1998; Page D01

You'd have thought they added a roller coaster at the Nissan Pavilion, so regularly and so fervently did Hanson fans scream and squeal last night. And that was in the two hours leading up to the show! Once the concert started, the screaming was virtually nonstop, goosed a bit with every close-up of 15-year-old lead singer and keyboard player Taylor Hanson and perhaps even more so with the close-ups of 12-year-old drummer Zach Hanson. Which is not to suggest that the old man in the group, 17-year-old guitarist Isaac Hanson, was in any way slighted. He just may be a little old for the crowd that showed up at Nissan.

The screaming, incidentally, lasted a good 20 minutes past Hanson's departure from the stage and, according to an usher, was louder than Metallica itself a few nights before. Whoever has the lozenge concession for Northern Virginia should see profits rise tomorrow.

The concert was one of a handful Hanson is doing this summer, and the band clearly didn't spend much on set design -- the stage was surprisingly uncluttered, except for some faux oil derricks, apparently designed to reinforce the notion that the teen titans from Tulsa intended to deliver barrels and barrels of fun. Which they did, particularly when they focused on the jubilant power of pop songs like last summer's inescapable slice of ear candy "MMMbop," the bouncy trio of "Where's the Love," "A Minute Without You" and "Man From Milwaukee," or the earnest and inspirational sing-and-wave-along "I Will Come for You," which wrapped notions of family, friendship, love and community under one insistent chorus.

There also were the tender ballads that benefited from the keening voices of Taylor (the whimsically inquisitive "Weird" and the charming remembrance "With You in Your Dreams," part of a brief acoustic set) and, on occasion, Isaac, whose solo keyboard showcase, "More Than Anything," was a perfect expression of absolute romantic devotion in adolescence.

The brothers sounded best on tunes that drew on their natural ebullience, charm and, yes, innocence, whether the romantic fable "Soldier" or the vivacious "Stories," both from albums recorded three years ago, when Taylor was 12. His voice has changed much since those sessions, deepening enough that even his leads on "MMMbop" sounded a bit different from last summer's hit version (not that anyone noticed last night, since all the fans were singing along as if their lives depended on it).

For some reason, the 90-minute concert began and ended with covers: Hanson kicked it off with the Spencer Davis Group's "Gimme Some Lovin' " and preceded "MMMbop" with a spirited version of the Young Rascals' "Good Lovin' " (or was that the Little Rascals?). The show ended with their Who-ish interpretation of Eddie Cochran's classic "Summertime Blues." If nothing else, they disproved the song's key contention -- that there ain't no cure for the summertime blues. How about Hanson? Aside from sore throats and shattered eardrums, there was nothing that ailed anyone by the time Hanson was finished.

Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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