Live: HANSON // Royal Festival Hall, London
Bringing their String Theory Symphonic Tour to the UK, HANSON took us on a trip down memory lane as they filled Royal Festival Hall with an orchestral feel.
No one nails harmonies the way they do.
Following a sold out 25th Anniversary World Tour, Grammy nominated multi-platinum rock-pop trio HANSON entered the next chapter with a brand new music project, String Theory. Featuring classic hits, such as MmmBop, Where’s The Love and This Time Around, as well as brand new or never-released-to-the-public songs, it’s a career-spanning compilation that strongly cements their outstanding songwriting with a symphonic quality. Collaborating with Academy Award winning arranger David Campbell, it resulted in a studio double-album, which was released in November 2018, and a world tour that saw the band playing live with Symphony Orchestras.
Hitting the road across the UK earlier this month, I caught the Hanson brothers at London’s magnificent Royal Festival Hall where they delivered a jaw-dropping set that, without a doubt, exceeded everyone’s expectations. If you lived through the era of bombastic pop music in the 90s, and early noughties, it was one of those shows you’d remember for the rest of your life.
Divided into two parts, it was a dazzling spectacle of immaculate harmonies that lie at the core of their every song. Absolutely stunning, the piano-led opener Reaching For The Sky (Part 1) quickly set the ambience as subtle instrumentals echoed throughout the room.
Taking us back in time with ultimate fan favourites from the very start, Where’s The Love and MmmBop showed the band’s exquisite precision at tying their vocal layers together in perfect unison. Breathing new life into the old school songs, the reimagined and reworked versions truly shone in the live setting with its string instruments section and percussion instruments aligned. Needless to say, the audience loved every second of it.
With a flair for writing irresistible rock-pop songs, HANSON also graced us with their more recent material. Displaying Zac Hanson on lead vocal duties, Siren Call soared on thumping drums and distinct strings, bringing a darker side to the band’s sound, whilst Breaktown sent shivers down your spine with its powerful chorus and lyrics that tackled the themes of inner pain and self-doubt that we all could relate to at times.
Continuing to inter-change and swap on their instruments surely added to the show’s dynamics, proving that these guys really are incredible and multi-talented musicians. Intertwining fast-paced tones with mellifluous melodies, HANSON served us a rhythmic sensation in the form of Tragic Symphony, whilst emotionally-charged Me Myself And I & What Are We Fighting For were sure to tug at your heartstrings.
Nostalgia was there to accompany us on every corner, with choir-like moments and a pristine symphonic arrangement that all added a grandiose touch to the live experience. Leaving I Was Born, Sound Of Light and Tonight for the big finale, it was a perfect end to the show with the whole of Royal Festival Hall carrying on dancing along and singing their hearts out till the music stopped.
Telling a story of aspiration and fortitude against the odds, String Theory is a testament to the band’s illustrious artistry and their musical vision, which they have never compromised since the day one. Pushing their sound to new heights, without ever forgetting where they came from, it cements their position as one of the most influential and respected artists on the scene. I suppose, it’s safe to say, that we all have jammed to HANSON’s songs at some point in our lives and watching a band who has continued to reinvent themselves in the span of 25 years is a truly remarkable thing to see. Leaving a significant mark their music surely has earned the tremendous esteem and status of being timeless. They are indeed one of the best bands of their generation.
Photos: Kasia Osowiecka