Hanson 2017 Concert Review

Last night I was privileged to see Hanson live in concert. That’s right, the guys that released “Mmm Bop” back in 1997. You might be thinking “I don’t have anything to learn from a 90’s all male pop band, I’ve got my awesome Sweet Child Of Mine guitar solo and Metallica’s heavy riffs for my musical influence”.

Here’s what I witnessed last night at Hanson…

Tastefully gritty guitar sounds that weren’t “death metal” distortion, but instead were perfect to compliment the style of pop songs being played. The guitars were even louder live than in the recordings, which means they’d rocked out more than you’d think. For me, this raises the question “how much distortion do I really need?”.

Thick Lush layered vocals. These boys can definitely sing – and they can sing in unison with awesome harmonies and counter melodies, all while playing drums, piano or guitar. Every single vocal note was on pitch. That’s not an easy feat when you’re jumping around for a two and a half hour show!

Super tight live performance. They clearly love to play around with rhythmic punching and accenting. Every single musical cue was dead on. And there were A LOT of them – that’s 25 years experience for you!

Killer chord usage. These guys were taking simple chord progressions and completely breaking the key A LOT. And they made it work every single time. It never sounded excessive or forced, it only sounded interesting and really cool. Unfortunately only the musicians in the audience would truly appreciate this.

Little to no “electronic” instruments or samples. All guitars, drums and keys. That’s pretty traditional these days and it’s great to see.

Three acoustic guitars for some songs and they used each and every one of them wisely. They didn’t just copy each other – they had specific guitar parts for each person. I know that’s pretty standard for guitarists, but it was all done very tastefully.

Simple riffs that rocked. No crazy shredding, just basic melodic phrases that were lively, upbeat and catchy. Mostly based around the Major Pentatonic scale.

Melodic hooks and counter melodies. They make lively upbeat pop music interesting again. I can’t be the only musician out there who’s sick of 4-1-6-5, 6-4-1-5 and 1-5-6-4 chord progressions lasting an ENTIRE SONG. These guys are true instrumentalists – you could see it in their faces and hear it in their playing. Their newly released song has a bar of 5/4 in it – DURING THE CHORUS! They simply add an extra beat at the end of the phrasing. Unconventional for pop music, but again, they make it work.

Now, Hanson’s pop tunes may not be your cup of tea, but refusing to learn from other musicians really means that you’re just limiting yourself. We all have something to learn from Hanson’s songwriting, musicianship and performance.

A job well done!

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  1. Nice. i could see the talent in this band as kids..how many 11 yr olds can play drums and harmonise? not that many i dont think. i think their first song was a blessing and curse to them.

    1. They are often dismissed because of their early work, but Middle Of Nowhere is one of my favourite albums of all time!