29 Jun 2017

Review: Hanson at the Auckland Town Hall

From RNZ Music, 2:10 pm on 29 June 2017


RNZ Music's Zoe George went to see her childhood idols Hanson perform at Auckland's Town Hall. She wished she'd brought her earplugs.


Hanson Photo: Flikr - Anne Glamore

Sex, drugs and rock n roll aren’t often associated with American boy band Hanson, who played at the Auckland Town Hall on Tuesday night as part of their Middle of Everywhere Tour.

Sex (obviously, they have 12 kids between them); drugs (if you count beer) and rock n roll (they did a fantastic cover of Chuck Berry’s Johnny B Goode). 

I've been a fan since I was 11. I saw them at the Powerstation three years ago and even got to interview Issac! But this time around, they had me wishing I'd brought earplugs.

Not because the music was bad (some might disagree), but because it was so loud. In fact, I’ve been to an AC/DC concert that was less overwhelming volume-wise.

The three Hanson brothers, who rose to fame 20 years ago with their sickly-sweet smash hit MMMbop, played both old and new songs for nearly two and a half hours.

 Their opening song 'Shout It Out' was almost inaudible, as the instruments completely drowned out the vocals. Only the hardcore fans were on their feet.

But by their second song 'Where’s The Love' the entire crowd was dancing. As the concert progressed the sound got more tolerable, but it was still loud enough to cause a heavily pregnant friend to sit in the hallway.

“Just give me MMMbop and let me go!” she said. She’d have to wait at least another hour for her wish to be granted.

Hanson on TV3's The Project

Hanson on TV3's The Project Photo: Screen capture

We expected a bubblegum pop sound, but Hanson's sound has a more mature rock vibe now, even with pop classics like MMMbop. And unlike other boy bands of their era, Hanson are in fact fine musicians, playing piano, guitar and drums with vigor and skill.

They also proved their vocal chops when they slowed down the pace with an acoustic set, featuring their track 'Madeline' and an a capella cover of a Bee Gees song. Tight harmonies caused the crowd to go silent and listen with intent. It was a respite for the ears.

That respite was short lived as they powered into the new hit 'I Was Born', a catchy toe-tapper with a video that features all of their 12 children. It was followed up by 'Get The Girl Back', another catchy, upbeat tune.

And then the song that everyone’s inner tween wanted to hear.

The audience danced and sang along to MMMbop’s almost nonsensical lyrics and after it was done, there was a mass exodus.

For those who stayed on there was another 30 minutes of music including an encore featuring Rockin Robin and Johnny B Goode which was thoroughly enjoyable.

Overall it was a fun experience, but the sound and the timing of the gig let it down. The band didn’t start until 9pm, much to the grumblings of the 30-something-year-old parents sitting around me.