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Live Review: Hanson + Matt Wertz - Palace Theatre, Melbourne (14.09.12)

There’s no denying that 2012 has been the year of the 90s pop revival. Being a 90’s kid myself, I have welcomed this with open arms, with the likes of Aqua, Vengaboys, Eiffel 65, Backstreet Boys and S Club 7 all making a comeback and touring our shores. And then of course the Spice Girls, who had the entire world on their feet as they reunited for the closing ceremony of the London Olympics.

However I would not dare add Hanson to this list of reformed 90s icons for two reasons. Number one, Hanson is far from manufactured or as superficial as the groups stated above. And secondly, Hanson never really left. In fact, the trio have continued to pump out songs and records, with Shout it Out being their fifth studio album to date, and hence their reason for returning to Australia for the first time since 2005. It was more than clear that the 3 brothers have been greatly missed by their “Fansons” down under, with the line outside the Palace Theatre panning down 2 alleyways and ending a whole block away on this chilly Friday evening.

Opening for Hanson was Nashville singer/songwriter Matt Wertz. It was a big stage for just one man and his guitar, but Wertz’s booming voice and powerful strumming of his acoustic most certainly made up for any negative space and filled the entire room with great energy. Whilst it was quite obvious that everyone was itching for 10.20pm, Wertz still put 110% into his performance and was a highly entertaining support act.

After a 20 minute interval and the crowd chanting “HANSON” over and over, the lights finally dimmed as youngest brother and drummer Zac took to the stage, followed by the eldest Isaac, and then the heartthrob that was always Taylor. This of course had the crowd in an absolute frenzy, and I couldn’t help but unleash my inner 10 year old and join in on the squealing. With 15 years of music under their belt, there was no time to waste as the boys launched straight into “Shout it Out”, the title track of the tour and album, which immediately had everybody inside the Palace grooving and singing along. The brothers caught many by surprise by following straight into one of their classic hits “Where’s the Love” but not one person was complaining.

There were way too many highlights from tonight but one in particular was the 3 song whammy Hanson delivered toward the end of their set. Starting with “Penny and Me”, a personal favourite of mine, Taylor was perfect on the keys and all 3 didn’t miss a note as they provided some beautiful harmonies in the chorus. This was then followed by their latest release, “Give A Little”, which has more of a jazz feel to it. Even from this track you could easily mistake Hanson as a brand new emerging band, forgetting that they have actually been around for nearly two decades. And then there was "Mmm Bop". To say the crowd went APESHIT would be a massive understatement. I don’t think I’ve ever heard such a loud sing-along, it was electrifying. As for the 3 brothers, tonight’s rendition definitely wasn’t as poppy and squeaky clean as it was 15 years ago, but my lord, it was still amazing.

A perfect mixture of songs was on show tonight, with the brothers touching on both old and new material, even treating us with a cover of “Oh Darling” by The Beatles. All 3 Hanson boys delivered some fun solos throughout the night but an honourable mention must go to Zac for his performance of “And I waited”. He’s got some great pipes on him! Finishing off with “If Only”, another mega hit from their early days, Hanson went rock and roll with Zac back flipping off his drum kit, Isaac sliding across the stage on his knees and Taylor jumping along with the crowd.

Although they don’t break out into choreographed dance numbers or wear crazy cool costumes much like what the majority of 90s bands did, the Hanson brothers most certainly hold a greater wealth of talent in that they play their own instruments, write their own songs and have been consistent in the material they produce, unfazed by chart success or music trends and not giving in to the demands of the ever changing mainstream market. The sound (and look) of Hanson has most certainly matured, but their work remains to be just as infectious as before, with a blast of bouncy rhythms and catchy chord progressions that will always have your feet tapping.

I can’t even describe how good it was to see these guys live. You can’t argue with the fact that today’s music world is led by the likes of Justin Bieber and One Direction but mark my word on this: Hanson still got it!