It was a cold and rainy Wednesday night and The Forum Theatre was already three quarters full thirty minutes before the opening act took to the stage. There had to be something special that drew the masses out of their warm homes in the middle of the week and Hanson was it.
The opening act was John Calvin Abney. A solo singer songwriter from Tulsa, Oklahoma. He played a combination of country and folk music with a bit of the blues in it.
The venue was surprisingly full at this point and most of the crowd were supportive and involved throughout his set. The first thing that stood out to me was John’s fantastic harmonica skills. I’ve never heard solos executed so well on a harmonica. As a solo performer he sounded very full as his acoustic guitar laid down the rhythms and his harmonica took the place of the lead melodies.
His slower songs had a nice story telling element to them and invoked images of floating down the Mississippi on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Hanson took to the stage shortly after 9pm. The Forum Theatre was packed at this point. You could feel the anticipation of the crowd and knew that these were hardcore fans of the band. They opened the show with Waiting for this from their 2010 album Shout it out. The crowd exploded with screams and dancing soon as they took to the stage and this level of enthusiasm continued throughout the set.
They followed this up with Don’t Let Me Down from their new album, Red Green Blue. The new material has a slightly stronger rock edge to it and you can hear how the brothers have matured as musicians and songwriters.
I had wrongly expected most of the crowd to have come just to hear the hits like MMMBop and I Will Come To You.
Boy was I wrong. The crowd knew the words and sang along to almost every single song from Hanson’s huge 25 song set (even including a Bass solo and Drum solo), spanning their 27 year career.
Often times being even louder than the band. Despite that the sound on the night was fantastic. The sound engineer ensured the mix from the band was incredibly balanced and every musician was clearly heard.
From the beginning of their career Hanson were unfairly lumped in with the boy bands of that era and many people have a preconceived notion of who and what they are as artist. However, what I witnessed on the night was not a formulaic pop band but a band of highly skilled musicians who understand how to write and perform to serve a song.
This is a new Hanson that has left their boyish image behind and is honestly a bad ass rock band.