Sunday, April 14, 2013

LIVE FROM NEW YORK: The Ultimate "Throwback Thursday" with Hanson @ iHeartRadio

April 2013 has something in the water. Ready to time travel, fam?

On Thursday night, my long-term BFF and I headed down to TriBeCa's iHeartRadio Theatre. This marks my third official show at the small theater, following my 2010 showing of Kelly Rowland (long before "Kisses Down Low") and Conor Maynard this past January. As we waited in line outside, upon seeing the long tendril of young (mostly white) women, mostly in their 20's, a group of guys passed by asking "Are you waiting for the Jonas Brothers?" They would be close...kind of.

That's right -- on Thursday night, I fulfilled a nearly 16 year old pop dream and saw the brothers Hanson live on stage. I've never hidden the love affair my former 10 year old self had on Isaac, Taylor & Zac. In fact, I often credit their debut major album release Middle of Nowhere as my first real mainstream pop record. And I'm here to tell you -- for those who have written off Hanson as a one/two hit wonder, you need to go back to your room and think about your words. Now six original albums deep into a fruitful, 21+ long career (!!), Hanson proved themselves to be worthy of any and all attention -- and damn, can they call to arms an ardent, loyal fanbase.

Walking on stage, each brother was dressed in an all black suit (I guess Justin Timberlake's "Suit & Tie" is pretty pervasive, huh?). Back in '97, I was all about kid drummer Zac -- he was, after all, the closest to my age; just two years elder. However, in '13 -- guitarist Isaac has transformed into the sexy one (it needs to be said). To be totally fair, the years since "Mmmbop" dominated radio have been good to the three of them -- they all looked handsome and, especially in the case of lead singer Taylor, completely unaged from their former teenage selves.

The event was a special one for the band, because in addition to being streamed live on iHeartRadio, they would be world premiering six brand new, never before heard tracks from their upcoming seventh "official" studio album Anthem, set for release in June (my birthday month!). I would later learn from their official website that this was the first time the band has ever played new music at a concert prior to its release.

The show opened with several cuts from Anthem, including the ballsy kickstarter "Fired Up" and brand new single "Get The Girl Back". The latter was just serviced to radio and the comedic music video premiered earlier this month featuring Twilight's Nikki Reed and 2 Broke Girls'/Thor's Kat Dennings.

The middle of their set offered more familiar fare, including their "revival" hit "Penny & Me" (one of my faves and it went to #2 on the Hot 100), from their 2004 album Underneath. Two singles from their last album, 2010's Shout It Out followed ("Thinkin' 'Bout Something" and "Give A Little") -- both of which are stellar power pop. 

Then came "If Only", a pop sparkler released back in 2000. The original featured Blues Traveler's John Popper on the harmonica (Fun Fact: Blues Traveler was my first concert ever. I know.) but on Thursday night, Taylor cover the part (as well as bouncing between lead mic and keys on stage left). The crowd reaction to this song was bananas. Everyone was jumping up and down and having a great time.

Oh hey, the year 2000!

Coming off the high of "If Only", the inevitable initial chords of "Mmmbop" were cued up. I was expecting the same kind of crazy reaction -- but I'm guessing since the crowd was largely Hanson superfans, they'd heard the song so darn much, maybe the shine has worn off? No matter, I sang along to the whole thing. (#YOLO) You can watch quite a bit of this performance over at my YouTube channel.

The boys closed out their set with a pair of new songs: "You Can't Stop Us" and "Already Home". Hear me now: if "You Can't Stop Us" doesn't become the next single, I will cry foul. This song was fantastic and the crowd reaction proved it. Isaac also had a verse to himself and his husky voice was a pleasant surprise. It was catchy pop rock that I think, in my own opinion, was one of the strongest songs in the whole genre I've heard in awhile. I can't wait to hear the studio version on Anthem. "Already Home," while good, wasn't as instantly hooky as the previous song so the set up to their exit wasn't as climactic as it could have been had they ended on "You Can't Stop Us". Oh well.

Overall, Taylor acted as MC for the majority of the set and all three came off affable and humble despite their long careers in the business (I mean -- they were children when they started for crying out loud!). Now grown, married men with children (unbelievable), they are engineers of their own destiny, releasing music on their own independent label since 2004. Despite not being aware of much of their material, their brand of bouncy pop rock is instantly entertaining in their capable hands -- Taylor's voice is crystalline clear just as it was back in 1997. Truly a talented group of men and I'm proud to fulfill 10-year-old Melismatic's dream.

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