LIVE REVIEW: Hanson, HMV Institute (Birmingham), 27.11.11

Hanson fans are hardcore. Simple as that. With doors opening at 7pm, I approximate a support slot starting about an hour later, so meet my friend next door to the HMV Institute for a quiet drink at just gone 6. By this point the queue of fans stretches beyond anyone’s wildest imagination. While they all have tickets in hand, the fans are there early to make sure they can get close to the stage and stock up on merch (which I later find includes the novel board game “Hansonopoly”).

Post-drink I return to the venue and arrive as support act Meiko takes to the stage. A friendly figure, Meiko boasts a sweet vocal that fits perfectly her brand of acoustic folk pop. While the audience are both warm and responsive the chatty chanteuse, it becomes clear that the hardcore Hanson fans (those with Hansonopoly in tow) are getting impatient for their heroes and the chatter at the end of Meiko’s set starts to drown her out.

Luckily the wait for Isaac, Taylor and Zac is far from a long one. The boys (should I say men? After all they are now all married men and fathers…) come bouncing onto stage and are met with screams and shouts. Hanson lap up the response as they launch into “Thinkin’ ‘Bout Somethin'” with an addictive energy. Within thirty seconds it is apparent that this will be a show to talk about.

Hanson are compelling, natural performers who fill a venue with positive vibes yet lack anything in the shape on an ego. They are simply passionate and gifted musicians whose enjoyment shines through in a way that excites a listener.

Aware that their UK fans know them of old, they ensure that their set covers all bases. While early hits “MMMBop” and “This Time Around” are greeted with sing along appraisal, later material, including the irrepressible “Give A Little” prove just as popular.

Equally important to the evening’s proceedings are the often telling solo slots. While my prejudiced notion was that Taylor was the talented vocalist, both Zac and Isaac prove they warrant an equal share of the spotlight. While Zac left the spine tingling with his tender rendition of  “Use Me Up”, Isaac revisited his early composition, the riotous “River”.

With their set over in what feels like just a few moments, the brothers keep the tempo up and their calls for audience participation are met with huge enthusiasm. As they close with the addictive “If Only”, the boys bounce around on stage and have the whole Institute jumping up even more of a sweat.

Before the song is even finished calls for an encore have started. Hanson do the statutory stage exit but do not tease for long. Their Cheshire grins are proof that they are loving the evening as much as their fans and they launch into a new Christmas composition about sweaters and “Snowed In” classic “Run Rudolph Run”.

The gracious brothers thank the audience and speak to fans as the slow exit commences – however, it appears that the merch desk is the first port of call and barely a soul leaves without the latest album “Shout It Out” and a T Shirt or two…

While I concede I leave empty handed, I have to admit there was a big part of me that was tempted by a T Shirt and a Hansonopoly..

Reviewer: Jeremy Williams
Rating: 5/5 


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