|From left: Zac, Taylor, and Isaac Hanson performed Saturday at Avalon to promote their CD "The Walk," out tomorrow. (PR NEWSWIRE)|
Hanson retains harmonious, boyish charm
It's been 10 years since a slice of Jackson 5-esque confection called "MMMBop" splashed Hanson, sunny side up, on airwaves everywhere and made the three pubescent brothers instant MTV stars. Fame, like a hit song's hook, usually arrives like a bolt out of the blue and departs just as quickly. But incredibly, a decade later, Hanson -- still cute, still harmonizing -- is still here.
Also still present during a nearly sold-out all-ages show at Avalon Saturday night were the sweet screams, a startling display of decibels coming courtesy of the apparently inexhaustible throats of girls who were likely third-graders when Hanson first sent their hearts swooning. For just under two hours Saturday, the Tulsa trio (subtly augmented by a second guitarist and bassist) gave them, and those of us who were a wee bit older, something to scream about.
They're all grown up now -- guitarist Isaac, the oldest and quietest is 26; piano-playing Taylor, the dreamboat lead singer and extrovert, is 24; drummer Zac, whose smile is as terrific as his sense of syncopation, is still cherubic at 21 --but Hanson's bubblegum-pop melodies and sibling-close harmonies remain as youthfully exuberant, as infectiously fun, as ever. They'd be a guilty pleasure if they weren't so good.
The band's Boston show was one of several warm-up dates to promote "The Walk," its fourth album, which comes out tomorrow (a full tour is scheduled this fall), and Hanson seemed eager to try out the new material. Nearly half of the group's 22-song set was peppered with new songs, starting with "Great Divide," that kicked things off with a warm funk-ish groove, and the Zac-sung "Running Man," a Hall and Oates-esque number built on a ridiculously simple yet diabolically effective chorus that soon became indelible. This -- plus charm, musicianship, and a certain wholesome goodness -- has always been Hanson's formula for success.
Unlike the band's ill-conceived abomination of a few years ago, when it attempted Cream's proto-metal classic, "The Sunshine of Your Love," Hanson's clutch of covers was stylistically well-suited this time around: the Police's "Hole In My Life" ; Lenny Kravitz's "Let Love Rule" ; Three Dog Night's version of Hoyt Axton's "Never Been To Spain."
The ballads didn't fare as well, but then, when do they ever? Zac's guest turn at the piano and lead vocal on the new album's title track "The Walk," about the journey of life, aimed for seriousness but struck schmaltz instead. And the sophomorically icky "Yearbook" was a painful reminder of what can happen when one commits pen to paper at age 13 -- and then reads the journal entry aloud 10 years later.