Hanson, John Calvin Abney @ Hindley Street Music Hall, Adelaide 12/11/2022
The line to Hindley Street Music Hall stretched along three blocks for the return of the symmetrically perfect and musically gifted heartthrobs Hanson last night. While I admit I have not listened to them since I was in primary school and they have been far from my radar since, it turns out these boys have been very busy since their debut album Middle of Nowhere (1997) with a further ten studio albums since and an enormous loyal fan base mostly comprised of millennial women that have continued to follow the pop trio for over twenty five years.
Never one to turn down an opportunity to enjoy a different genre from my usual along with a mind-blowing douse of pre-teen nostalgia, I grabbed my best Black Metal friend and we Mmmbopped our way back to the 90s where everyone was suddenly a kid again for the night (albeit drinking better quality wine and wearing more expensive clothes) also noting the alarming amount of first dates, adoring husbands shouting their wives for anniversaries and meet cutes that I happened upon in that crowd throughout the night.
As well as the audience having glowed up from their Hanson hysteria days, the venue has been upgraded recently also. This was my first experience of Hindley Street Music Hall and I was very impressed. The tiered theatre style with upper balcony section (and a bar at each level) means you would find it very hard to not be able to have a good view of the stage- even when that freakishly tall human coincidentally stands right in front of you at some point in the night.
I spent a great part of the show moving to different sections, weaving through a packed crowd of mostly squealing women to really appreciate the different vantage points on offer- my favourite being from the very top where Taylor Hanson’s key playing was in perfect view. It’s a fantastic space that I hope gets a lot more use in the future.
Supporting for Hanson was folk singer John Calvin Abney from Texas performing solo with acoustic guitar and harmonica on hand. The set was short and sweet with a handful of his slow-paced easy listening tracks performed with impressive vocals and heartfelt delivery. It was a nice little backing to the energetic chatter and buzz of the packed venue, however it seemed to mismatch the energy of the room and the excitement that intensified with anticipation for the main event.
After what seemed like hours, finally the lights turned iridescent blue and Hanson entered stage left to the screams and cheers of an enormous army of frenzied women. Getting straight into it, Taylor bounced around the stage thumping a tambourine against his thigh singing the first track from their 2013 album Anthem, Fired Up which seemed entirely appropriate to get the audience in the zone. Much to everyone’s delight, the lads have all aged incredibly well while levelling up big time with their musical skill. It’s not surprising that Hanson have continued to captivate their adoring fans as they have grown up over the years. They have consistently released increasingly refined masterpieces while maintaining their boyish charm and boasting exceptional precision in their vocal and instrumental arrangements. Their hallmark catchy tunes are matched with a sophisticated blend of pop, soft rock, funk and country.
The stage was filled with instruments- a grand piano, keys upon keys, bongos and more percussion instruments that I can’t even name. They were accompanied by a bass player (which never occurred to me they might need) and a backing guitarist that switched up to keys for certain tracks. I am fairly sure Isaac had about twelve guitar changes throughout the night and the whole two-hour show was one great big high energy jam for them, maintaining their fiery passion the entire way through.
Of course, the monumental OG hits were thrown into the mix, Where is the Love and I will come to you (1997) evoked intense heartfelt wailing from the audience while the boys managed to deliver the songs with a deeper more mature sound, and their breakthrough first single we all know Mmmbop was met with an enormous roar that nearly blew the roof off. The enthusiasm from the crowd was so berserk you could have sworn you were in the middle of a Beatles concert- or a magic Mike show.
Of course, there was a lot of ground to cover with eleven albums in their inventory and a lot of tunes that I didn’t realise they had but somehow ended up in my mindscape over the years, such as If Only (2000) and Penny and Me (2004)
Surrounding these popular hits, Hanson offered up the lesser-known material from their very recent album RGB, which has been structured as individual songs written, produced and performed by each of them. It cleverly showcases each brother as an artist in their own right, with their own stories to tell. Through these tracks, the audience got an intimate look at Taylor, Zac and Isaac as they would each take the lead throughout the set. Taylor flaunted his flawless vocals in Child at Heart while Zac moved centre stage to sing and tap rhythm to an acoustic rendition of Go. Isaac gave us Write you a Song, after telling us the story of how it was written explicitly for his 8-year-old daughter because she insisted (cue the chorus of adoring sounds from the audience) He boasted a voice that has ripened beyond his initial tenor part harmonies against Taylor’s lead vocals, again reaffirming that these three brothers are both collectively and individually masters at their craft that just keep getting better.
Whether a faithful Hanson fan or just a lover of quality music, this show was an enjoyable experience for everyone, and the brothers really delivered an impressive and energetic performance with each song carefully curated and placed into a very long but engaging set. It seems these handsome and supremely talented boys (men) with their memorable jingles have not lost their appeal over the years, and they continue to keep fans coming back for more.
Live Review By Rebecca Scheucher