One of my favorite moments from VH1’s I Love the ’90s series (which I would link to here if Viacom hadn’t made YouTube take down all its clips) was when Scott Ian of Anthrax refused to rip on the brothers Hanson — Isaac, Taylor, and Zac— because they at least played their own instruments. Ten years after “MMMBop,” the guys are doing more than that. They are, brace for it, kind of rocking.
At a packed “preview show” for their fourth studio album, The Walk (due May 22 stateside), the brothers took the stage of NYC’s Supper Club to deafening screams. Cliché, but true. The feedback that momentarily halted the show later in the hour and 40-minute set was only slightly more painful. (Reading Taylor’s lips when he asked “Where the f— is it?” while everyone searched for the cause, however, was enjoyable.)
Because you know you care: Taylor (pictured,right), in particularly fine hair form, was workin’ skinny black jeans and, of course, a scarf (which that boy can pull off). Isaac (left) was dapper in a black dress shirt and pin-striped vest. (Yes, he came into his own.) And “Little Zac” (center) was ultra laid back in a T-shirt — and a warm, constant grin. I think the only time he wasn’t smiling was during the encore, Cat Stevens’ “Peace Train.” Maybe because Taylor rode it a little too long?
The new album? Yes. Let’s get to it. Hard to tell which of the tunes were actually new — since some serious fans sang along to everything — but here’s what I could decipher: the first single off the indie release will be the mature ballad “Go.” And for the first time, Zac sings lead! Here’s the video. Have a listen. And admit that the guys know how to write a chorus. And harmonize. And that Taylor’s piano sounds pretty. The middle Hanson took back the mic on the love-will-keep-us-together-themed “Georgia”, while Isaac did the honors on “Watch Over Me.”
Though last night’s performance featured several guests (including arecurring children’s choir), that song starred the evening’s biggestone: Andrew W.K. Yes, that Andrew W.K. Not sure why he was tickling the ivories, but he didn’t appear forced. Other memorable new tunes included the Motown-vibed “Been There Before” and the funky “Blue Sky”. (We had to wait for the cover of “Feeling Alright” to see Isaac dance like James Brown though).
As for the real oldies but goodies, the crowd went apes— for “MMMBop” (watch the actual performance here).Taylor let the crowd sing the first half of the song — such a smartboy. (Is it wrong that I’m calling him a boy when he’s married withthree children?) I was happy to hear the big single from their lastalbum, “Penny & Me”,which is seriously a great song. As is “Strong Enough to Break” (thetitle of the documentary that captured the making of that record andtheir break from their prior label), and the pop-as-pop-can-be “Lost Without Each Other.”That song always makes me dance in the comfort of my home, andapparently my body is conditioned. Three seconds into the tune Irealized that I was bouncing, and turned to my +1 Karen and said,”Oh my God, I just did that.” She reminded me that I was “among friends”and allowed me to continue.
To recap, in a slightly clearer version: Enjoy Hanson, PopWatchers. You’ve never needed our permission, but you’ve got it.