Way back in April 1997, brothers Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson burst onto the music scene with their debut single ‘MMMBop’. The ridiculously catchy tune became a global smash hit, topping the charts in 12 countries and launching the band into the stratosphere. Since then they’ve released a further 11 studio albums and sold 16 million records, as well as having eight top 40 singles in the UK and continuing to tour around the world. After taking a three-year break from touring due to the Covid-19 pandemic, now they’re back in the UK kicking off the first leg of their world tour in support of their new LP, ‘Red Green Blue’.
Arriving on stage to absolutely deafening screams – this was by far the loudest crowd I’ve heard so far this year – Hanson opened their set with ‘Where’s The Love’, the second single from their debut album ‘Middle Of Nowhere’. It was a really fun, high-energy way to start the show and had the crowd singing and dancing along straight away, and finished with a wicked guitar solo from Isaac. They finished the song to rapturous applause and cheers from the audience and it was clear they were absolutely thrilled to be back performing live.
For the next two hours, the trio took us on a journey through their musical history, drawing on tracks from across their career. Whilst some of the biggest cheers were reserved for early hits like ‘A Minute Without You’ and ‘Thinking Of You’, one thing that really struck me was the sheer range of their musical influences. The bluesy intro of ‘Great Divide’ highlighted Isaac’s strengths as a guitarist, whilst ‘Save Me’ featured a stunning vocal from Taylor and the rocky ‘If Only’ saw him bouncing around the stage like Tigger. It’s a real trick to hit all those key points in your career whilst still keeping it fresh, especially for fans who have seen you multiple times given the number of vintage Hanson shirts I spotted in the audience. However, they absolutely pulled it off and delivered some fantastic showmanship whilst doing so, encouraging the crowd to clap and cheer as loudly as possible on the likes of ‘This Time Around’ and punch the air along to ‘I Was Born’.
That said, there was still plenty of music from ‘Red Green Blue’ in the set as well. Zac’s rendition of ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ was an early highlight, with him hitting a huge note whilst Isaac and Taylor encouraged the audience to chant along, and his heartfelt piano-led solo on ‘Wake Up’ sounded utterly gorgeous, holding the entire audience spellbound. Elsewhere, Isaac brought opener Paul McDonald out to sing with the band on the jangly, upbeat ‘Write You A Song’, whilst the funky ‘Cold As Ice’ included a brilliant drum solo from Zac during band introductions. Not to be outdone, Taylor produced an acoustic guitar version of ‘Child At Heart’ which was full of emotion and provided a really moving moment, as well as fantastic vocal tone and clarity.
For me some of the standout moments came during the brothers’ solo performances. I’ve mentioned Zac’s performance of ‘Wake Up’ already, but both Isaac and Taylor absolutely shone too. Isaac straw polled the crowd on which song he should play before delivering a fantastic acoustic version of ‘River’ that really highlighted the soul in his voice, as well as telling the story behind writing the song way back when. Later in the show, Taylor produced a haunting piano-driven performance of ‘Weird’ which saw the crowd burst into cheers at the end as he bowed to them in thanks. All three solos really showcased their talents as musicians and singers and that they’re powerhouse performers in their own rights. I also loved their acoustic version of ‘Penny And Me’ which highlighted their fantastic harmonies, as well as the moving ‘I Will Come To You’ – with the crowd lighting up their phones as they sang along – and the acapella ending of ‘Only Love’, showing just how good they are as vocalists.
After a rock-influenced spin on ‘MMMBop’ – which drew the loudest cheers of the night and a singalong I genuinely thought might take the roof off the Roundhouse – followed by ‘Get The Girl Back’ and the driving ‘Lost Without Each Other’, the band left the stage to thunderous applause and demands for ‘one more song!’ from the crowd. They happily obliged a few moments later, with Zac and Taylor swapping places for ‘Juliet’ – complete with Isaac leading a crowd sway-along – and closing with ‘In The City’. Despite having played for two hours straight, they all still had bags of energy, with Taylor in particular leaping about the stage as he whipped up the audience to join in one last time and sounding as fresh as he had at the start of the show. Dripping with sweat as the three of them and their band took their bows and yet looking like they could keep going for another two hours, it was clear they’d had an absolute ball. Judging by the crowd response, the feeling was very much mutual – especially given the reaction when Isaac leapt down from the stage into the audience!
Overall Hanson delivered an outstanding show that highlighted exactly why they’ve managed to stay relevant over the past three decades in the business. Isaac, Taylor and Zac showcased not only their skill as individual singers and musicians, but also the blend of their vocals that make them really special to watch and the range of influences in their sound as well. It was an utterly joyful way to spend an evening and I can’t wait for them to come back over to the UK soon – let’s just hope they don’t keep us waiting so long next time!
Set list: 1. Where’s The Love 2. A Minute Without You 3. Against The World 4. Thinking Of You 5. If Only 6. Don’t Let Me Down 7. Great Divide 8. Child At Heart 9. Save Me 10. Go 11. Wake Up 12. Penny And Me 13. River 14. Write You A Song (with Paul McDonald) 15. This Time Around 16. Cold As Ice 17. Thinkin’ ‘Bout Something 18. And I Waited 19. Weird 20. I Will Come To You 21. Only Love 22. I Was Born 23. MMMBop 24. Get The Girl Back 25. Lost Without Each Other Encore: 26. Juliet 27. In The City Performance date: 30 June 2022
Hanson’s new album ‘Red Green Blue’ is out now on 3CG Records.
See Hanson live in the UK on the ‘Red Green Blue’ tour this month:
2 July – Bristol, O2 Academy
3 July – Leeds, Stylus, Leeds University