Can’t stop the bop: Hanson go strong at the Vogue after 25 years

Hanson at the Vogue Theatre, 10/18/17

Photo courtesy of Vogue Theatre
Photo courtesy of Vogue Theatre

Hanson turned 25 this year, and they’ve been commemorating their milestone birthday with their Middle of Everywhere 25th Anniversary World Tour. If that makes you feel old, maybe you can take just a little solace in the fact that “MMMBop” didn’t come out until five years later.

The tour is taking the band as far as South America, Europe, and Australia, but last night (Oct. 18), the North American leg brought the three brothers, Zac, Taylor, and Isaac, specifically to the Vogue Theatre in Vancouver.

Before nostalgia fully took hold, Matthew V opened the show with funky, glistening rock, just him, a guitarist, and a drummer. The homegrown 21-year-old and self-described “six-foot-four baby” played songs including “Let Me Go”, a slow number he co-wrote with Dan Mangan (another Vancouverite). V dedicated this song to the memory of Gord Downie who passed away the night before. V also tossed in a cover of Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time”, in keeping with the audience’s thirst for nostalgia.

Hanson handily quenched that thirst by mixing their best-known hits including “Where’s the Love,” “Weird,” and “If Only,” and with new songs “I Was Born” and set closer “Finally It’s Christmas”, the title-track from their new Christmas album out next week. And of course, they played their number one hit: “More than likely, it’s the first song you ever heard from us,” Taylor said introducing “MMMBop.”

The brothers switched things up all night. Isaac alternated between electric and acoustic guitar while drummer Zac and keyboardist Taylor swapped instruments. Zac also took over lead vocals from Taylor on a few songs including “Juliet.” They performed a cappella and sometimes with just Isaac on guitar, Zac wielding a shaker, and Taylor rattling a tambourine. “On and On” featured all three singing while strumming acoustic guitars.

Hanson also showed they came from classic rock and roll and more. “Waiting for This” rode a constantly moving groove laced with dexterous drumming and guitar and keyboard solos, the very kind that also powered “Thinking ‘Bout Somethin’”. “Tragic Symphony” was straight-up funk. “This Time Around” was steeped in blues and country pop. And then there was “Penny & Me”, an acoustic and piano rocker for all those in the audience who’d travelled far to see the show, and there were a few fans from Bellingham and Portland.

As impressive as Zac, Taylor, and Isaac were, it must be noted that they were helped in no small part by a bassist and second guitarist. The latter in particular got many moments to shine, stepping into centre stage to trade solos with Isaac.

From reminiscing about various stages in their career, like when they left Island Def Jam Records and launched their own 3CG Records, Hanson segued into “Strong Enough to Break,” the first song from their first independent album, Underneath. Hanson dedicated this song to all the fans who stuck with them “and especially for anybody who’s ever taken shit for being a Hanson fan. We salute you tonight!”

While thanking the audience and bowing out, Taylor put it simply: “If you keep coming back, we’ll keep coming back.” With the Vogue enthusiastically sold out (or damned well near it), there’s no need to worry about Hanson skipping our town for years to come.

Leslie Ken Chu

Leslie Ken Chu

Contributor