Three-piece pop-rock band Hanson, consisting of brothers Isaac, Taylor, and Zac have been a music staple since the 90s.
With their debut studio album ‘Middle of Nowhere’ sparking global attention in 1997 and going 5x Platinum here in Australia, it is even more incredible to learn that this year, Hanson are celebrating their 30th anniversary. After 21 countries on their Red Green Blue Tour to coincide with their latest album ‘Red Green Blue’ released in May this year, Hanson performed their 101st show of the tour and their final show of the Australian leg on Thursday November 17th, 2022, at the iconic Australian music venue, Forum Melbourne.
I remember how catchy ‘MMMBop’ was when it hit the scene, and it is phenomenal how impressive Hanson’s songwriting skills were back then. When the song was soaring on the international charts, Isaac was 16, Taylor was 14, and the youngest, Zac, was only 11 years old. Now grown and their songwriting skills having improved ten-fold, this Melbourne show not only marked a major milestone of their careers, but it also happened to land on Isaac’s birthday, turning 42 and celebrating it in the best way possible, on the road in another country with dedicated fans, and doing what he loves.
Passionate fans had lined up since 8pm the night before, forming a line to the second Melbourne show straight after the first Melbourne concert. Dressed in green with shiny headbands that read ‘Happy Birthday’, these dedicated fans also gave away green glow sticks to fellow patrons, stating that this was to be used during Isaac’s solo song to celebrate his birthday that night. The amount of love, loyalty, and passion from these mature and kind Hanson fans was just so wholesome to experience.
After looking up the setlist from the first Melbourne show, Hanson were full of surprises and really threw me with a completely different setlist for Melbourne’s second show. This is something I’ve never witnessed before. It was a great setlist though, with songs such as the funky ‘Can’t Stop’, fan favourite ‘Penny & Me’, the beautiful ‘Child at Heart’, classic tune ‘Weird’, ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ showcasing Zac’s super impressive vocals, the groovy ‘Cold As Ice’, the catchy ‘This Time Around’, and even ‘Dressed in Brown Eyes’ complete with support act John Calvin Abney joining Hanson to display his finesse on the harmonica. The crowd interaction was great, Hanson were never afraid to get the crowd involved, even igniting a fist pump movement to the chorus of track ‘I Was Born’. With the grandeur of their music, I also couldn’t help but think that I would love to see the band tour with a real horn section.
Accompanied by Dimitrius Collins on the keyboard and guitar, and Andrew Perusi on the bass guitar, Hanson played a huge 2-hour set with catchy songs, one after the other, evidently showing fans and new fans alike that they have no bad songs. But it was when the group performed acoustically and individually, did Hanson really shine.
After unexpectedly breaking a guitar string at the beginning of the show and affectionately throwing it into the crowd for a lucky fan to keep, Isaac performed ‘Begin Again’ for his solo number, a lyrically beautiful song sharing, “If I were wiser, I could learn to talk without telling you what to think. If I were stronger, I would lift you up instead of pushing us to the brink. So tonight, I put my hope in that I have more to give. And maybe we can begin again”. Admittedly, I had never heard of this song before, and Isaac too admitted that it is available on a fan exclusive EP and is rarely, if at all, performed live.
During Isaac’s solo, fans like clockwork pulled out their green glow sticks and waved them in unison to Isaac’s song. It really was a wholesome and wonderful moment which then followed with the crowd singing ‘Happy Birthday’.
Brothers Zac and Taylor also had their solos with ‘Lulla Belle’ performed by Zac, showcasing his talents on the keys. While Taylor performed superb ballad ‘Save Me’ which began acapella with Taylor only accompanied by the voices from the audience, turning the crowd into his own personal choir. Both these solos were also incredible moments and collectively, the three had me in complete awe from their sheer talents.
The songs played acoustically were ‘Wish That I Was There’ and ‘MMMBop’. The way Hanson’s voices harmonised and melded together with a full band was great, but the acoustic moments were magical, especially with ‘MMMBop’. I’m sure they’ve done the song thousand times a million different ways, but the acoustic rendition that was performed on the last night of the Australia tour was an absolute delight to witness and I felt so lucky to have been in that room.
For their encore, Hanson surprised the venue again with a cover of ‘Great Balls of Fire’, a tribute to the late great Jerry Lee Lewis, and because Christmas is around the corner, the band performed Chuck Berry’ hit, ‘Run Rudolph Run’ which had the entire venue dancing by the end.
Hanson’s second Melbourne show was filled with chill and happy vibes in a concert that felt so personal, with songs that the band actually wanted to play. The personal touch to Melbourne also felt very genuine. When Hanson performed ‘Rambling Heart’, Taylor amended the lyrics to sing, “I won’t waste another California dream, or a Melbourne night”. This was a little thing, but it gave me goosebumps and filled my heart with bliss.
Forum Melbourne is one of my favourite music venues and to quote William Shakespeare, “I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it”. Hanson were amazing. I grew up listening to Hanson and have always wanted to see them live. This tour marks my first-time seeing Hanson perform and I’m so ecstatic that I can finally tick them off my concert bucket-list. Hearing ‘MMMBop’ in a stripped back acoustic way was so magical, celebrating Isaac’s birthday was a joy, and seeing the boys genuinely having fun performing on stage in Melbourne as much as the audience were having fun listening to them, was the greatest gift. I feel so blessed and would absolutely see them again in a heartbeat.
Hanson have one more country and show as part of their Red Green Blue Tour, ending on country number 22 and show number 102 in Auckland, New Zealand this Saturday the 19th of November, 2022.
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Photography by Grant Alexander.