London 5 of 5 – A Soundtrack On Repeat
There are many soundtracks.
There are soundtracks for sunny days, rainy days, busy days and quiet days.
From June 5th to 10th 2011, Hanson took up residence at Tutu’s music venue at Kings College London for the 5 of 5 London series of concerts.
Here they provided a soundtrack for the deepest moments in life – The hilarity, the vulnerability, the beauty and the passion.
It was a soundtrack for the week, but three years on that soundtrack still resonates in the memories of those able to attend and on the airwaves of all things Hansonmusic.
The London 5 of 5 followed the highly successful event in New York and many of the same fans attended both. Such was the appeal of this concept that fans travelled from all over the world, from North, South, East and West, to be among the intimate crowd and witness this something truly historic.
Not only was the idea courageous, playing the entire track listing of each studio album, but this time Hanson added a bonus feature – The Story.
This had never been done before in the live setting.
The Stories went on to be a feature of the Musical Ride Tour in 2011 but London was the first to hear them.
Hanson announced the 5 of 5 on a quick trip to London when they played at the 100 Club on Oxford St and held the Meet in the Middle event.
This news came as refreshing rain, since the last tour had been in 2007 and many fans had watched with some envy as Hanson walked around the world in the in-between time.
So for a week, with just one day off, fans waited on Surrey Street from early hours of the morning. Tents adorned the pavement, people shared newspaper cushions and many friendships were made.
People passing expressed a sense of intrigue. “What are you waiting for?” “Is this a demonstration?”
The replies left them slightly stunned. Who? What? Why? How? When? Questions – so many questions.
Often the replies came in the form of a song. Sometimes conversations began, sometimes it was just incredulity.
The overriding atmosphere was a sense of anticipation and excitement.
Sometimes the sun shone, sometimes it rained. Who cared? Waiting in line never felt so good.
Photo by Lexie Bright
In the Story sessions, Hanson described, illustrated and explained the journey from their first Mayfest performance in Tulsa, all the way through seven albums to Shout It Out.
The details of each creative vision and experience were different but the overriding principles were always the same – love of music, talent, drive, determination and joy in the execution of a project and the need for self expression.
On night One, they explained how they got signed after playing in “Nowhereville” Kansas and how the avalanche of success swept them from an appearance at the Paramus Mall in New Jersey to MMMBop being number one in 27 countries at once.
Touring the world prepared Hanson for the reality of live performance, but they still had to negotiate the meltdown of the record industry. On nights Two and Three they explored the light and dark of touring with a label in crisis and the emergence of an Independent Hanson, taking back control and continuing to do what they love.
The Story sessions had the candour and intimacy that is trademark Hanson. However it would be misguided to take this for granted and think it an easy thing.
Maybe it is something about the heart of these musicians, that taking risks, telling stories and creating memories fuels this most precious relationship – artist and fans – and encourages the inspiration for the next step.
Photo by Lexie Bright
On night Four Hanson shared anecdotes about the experience of making and taking The Walk, giving real insight into the motivations and inspirations for their leap of faith into creating a non profit, supporting TOMS shoes and making a particular type of music.
Night Five was a celebration.
It celebrated walking in the rain. It celebrated the deepening of many relationships and it declared that people should not be afraid to shout it out, do what they do or paint their colours on the blank canvas that is their own life.
The music that followed each story was Hanson at their best.
The songs, from each era of their career, flowed seamlessly together and it was possible to see how musical styles, preferences and references work on their palette.
Rarely heard songs took their place and it was possible to appreciate the way an album moves, touching emotions and affecting the senses.
Photo by Lexie Bright
What made it so compelling was the rawness of the presentation, the intimacy of the venue and the honest joy with which it was performed.
People will have their favourite moments, but for me, night Four, The Walk, with its technical hitches and highs and lows, will be forever one of the best musical experiences of my life. On this night I saw a master class in artistry. Determination, commitment, passion and professionalism were all on the stage at once, in the spotlight and not found wanting.
Hanson didn’t do encores during the first 3 nights of 5 of 5, but on this night they sang “Change In my Life” and it was stunning.
Find it on YouTube and see one of the best acapella performances ever by Hanson – in my opinion anyway.
It doesn’t seem like three years since London 5 of 5.
In some ways it seems longer ago, but only because Hanson have done so much since.
The story of the time since this event, is in many ways like the story that was told during the 5 of 5.
It is one of continuous movement forward, finding new ways to grow a business, being led by making music and respecting the fan base.
The latest members’ kit, “Music made for Humans…”, betrays an essential aspect of Hanson’s story.
Music made for humans by humans not afraid to be human.
Being reminded of how that humanity declared itself and was celebrated three years ago is a privilege.
Photo by Lexie Bright
Tutu’s is no longer a music venue.
It is a lecture theatre and meeting space for students.
Now it is quiet in the late evenings, when before music hit the walls and ceiling.
However, I suspect that a soundtrack still plays in the silence.
A soundtrack by Hanson that resonates with energy, passion, hope, colour, soul, love and humanity.
Thanks to Hanson for this remarkable experience
Thanks to More Than The Music and Lexie Bright for the pictures featured
To see a video of The London Walk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41-XDGASbus