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Hanson String Theory World Tour, Royal Festival Hall London live review

The trio brought their ambitious show to the capital last night.

Credit: Hanson

Hard as it may be to fathom, Hanson are celebrating their 25th anniversary of making music. While it may not seem 5 minutes since the 90s (seriously where did the time go?) the trio – Zac, Taylor and Isaac – have sustained a successful career making the music they want to make and building a unique relationship with their fans through their fanclub where they release music direct to their supporters. For their 11th studio album, String Theory, in 2018 they reworked a selection of songs from across their career with The Prague Symphony Orchestra and mixed in some new material too. Last night the brothers brought their World Tour to London’s Royal Festival Hall to perform the album in its entirety with the backing of a symphony orchestra.

Split into two acts, Hanson’s String Theory show saw them perform the album’s track listing in order. They opened the show with the piano-led Reaching for the Sky, Pt. 1, which set the tone for the evening nicely with a lead vocal from Taylor. It was also the first opportunity to hear the orchestra add their magic to the music and live it sounded pretty incredible. Second track Joyful Noise let Zac take lead vocals and it had a catchy melody and beat that got the audience moving.

Some of the band’s early hits were in the first act including a fantastic rendition of Where’s the Love, where the trio’s acapella vocals really impressed at the beginning of the song, and their classic MmmBop sounded fresh and modern with its new arrangement. MmmBop understandably got one of the biggest reactions of the night. Fan favourite Yearbook, from the band’s Middle of Nowhere album, was well received too and it could easily be a hit all these years on.

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Elsewhere in the set Siren Call was a standout. The atmospheric track was really stirring and Zac’s lead vocal was incredible. The slow-building beat of Battle Cry was another memorable moment as was the gorgeous Broken Angel. No Rest for the Weary showed off a more rootsy and soulful sound from the band and Sound of Light had a big anthem feel that made you want to wave your arms in the air.

Throughout the show the three brothers changed instruments several times, showcasing just how versatile they are as musicians. Their bond and chemistry is so clear and the short-hand they have on stage is amazing. You can tell that they have music deep-rooted within them and that they just love performing. The great audience atmosphere definitely added to the evening and for the last four songs every single audience member was on their feet.

The show came to a close with Tonight and it was a jubilant way to end a fantastic night of music. After the song the band took their bows and left the stage but the audience hung around for a while hoping for an encore. Sadly there wasn’t one but having performed 23 songs over the set, Hanson had definitely given fans value for money.

I have to admit I was very pleasantly surprised by Hanson’s show. In all honesty I’ve never been a huge fan, for no other reason than they just weren’t the kind of music I listened to in the 90s. Having now seen them live I can appreciate why they’ve stood the test of time and they’ve got a fantastic catalogue of music under their belts. The twist of the orchestra was very effective and I’d be surprised if they don’t perform more shows with this set up in the future. With amazing vocals, fantastic musicianship, a strong set list and the backing of the wonderful orchestra, Hanson wowed last night and I’d definitely call myself a fan now.

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Set list: 1. Reaching for the Sky, Pt. 1 2. Joyful Noise 3. Where’s the Love 4. Dream It Do It 5. MmmBop 6. Chasing Down My Dreams 7. Tragic Symphony 8. Got a Hold On Me 9. Yearbook 10. Siren Call 11. Me, Myself and I 12. Reaching for the Sky, Pt. 2 13. This Time Around 14. Something Going Round 15. Battle Cry 16. You Can’t Stop Us 17. Broken Angel 18. What Are We Fighting For 19. Breaktown 20. No Rest for the Weary 21. I Was Born 22. Sound of Light 23. Tonight Performance date: Friday 15th February 2019

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