Tulsa Times 74 Goosebumps and Bucket lists
This Tulsa Times features a review of the Hanson String Theory Show in Pittsburgh. Many thanks to Chris for sharing his experience with us.
My name is Chris (also known as zeus22 on hanson.net), and I belong to a very rare species called the “male Hanson fan.” I’ve been a fan since I heard “MMMBop” for the first time in 1997, and I’ve followed the band through their career peaks and valleys for the past 21 years.
There was a lot of ambiguity surrounding the String Theory project when it was first being discussed earlier this year. So when the first two concert announcements finally emerged, I considered myself fortunate that one of those shows was a mere ninety-minute drive from my hometown. I attended the Pittsburgh show with knowledge of what songs the setlist would entail, and I had spent a good bit of time analyzing the songs’ lyrics to decipher how they would fit into the larger narrative of String Theory. Other than that, I really didn’t know what to expect.
It was evident as soon as Isaac, Taylor, and Zac took the stage that this would be unlike any Hanson concert I had attended previously. The normally rambunctious crowd was completely silent as Taylor began to play the opening notes of “Reaching for the Sky” on the piano, and the orchestral pieces gradually joined him. The majestic effect gave me goosebumps, and, although I was listening to a song I had never heard, this prelude to the night was one of the show’s greatest highlights.
The first half of the evening indeed felt very different from a typical Hanson show as it featured many more quiet and pensive moments than Hanson fans are used to. The intensity of the evening instantly ratcheted up as the show’s second half opened with familiar songs like “This Time Around,” “Something Going ‘Round,” and “You Can’t Stop Us.”
I will happily admit to being an obsessive fan of Hanson’s previously unreleased track “Breaktown.” I first heard the song in all of its leaked, studio version glory in 2004, and I have been waiting patiently for the last 14 years for a chance to hear it in a live setting. I am so grateful that the String Theory project has finally given this song a home. The performance didn’t disappoint. The thick sound of the string section perfectly punctuated the main instrumental melody line throughout the song’s journey. I was in heaven. And Just like Hanson gets to check “playing with an orchestra” off their bucket list, I get to check “hearing ‘Breaktown’ live” off of mine.
As the concert worked toward its triumphant conclusion, the crowd, which had sat in mostly silent fascination up to that point, seemed to sense that the end was near. The opening acoustic guitar strums of “I Was Born” began and, one by one, fans rose to their feet in order to match the energy of the song. The seemingly urgent need for the crowd to do this felt incredibly spontaneous and genuine. Somehow Hanson (although certainly not appearing nervous or uncomfortable previously) appeared to loosen up like they were right in their element. The momentum of the crowd carried the guys right through “Sound of Light” and the evening’s fitting finale: “Tonight.” As the band exited the stage and promptly re-emerged, I couldn’t help but I think that I, as a fan, have come full circle with Hanson. The guys broke into an acapella encore: the chorus of “This Time Around,” the same way they did at the first Hanson show I ever attended in 2000. As they had just sung, “Tonight is the first night, tonight is the last night.”
Isaac, Taylor, and Zac have stated on several occasions that String Theory tells us a story. I believe that story details the band’s complete, twenty-six-year arc of optimism in creating their own music at a young age, seeking desperately to find an audience for their craft, partnering with a corporate label, finding explosive, global success with “MMMBop,” eventually being held back from advancing in their career with that label, fighting for and obtaining their independence, feeling as if nothing could stand in their way, finding a different kind of adversity in a place they never suspected: within themselves, and, ultimately, overcoming that adversity by pushing forward, focusing on the future, and living each day to the fullest. Some fans might see the narrative as a much more general tale of a boy going through the natural ups and down that life throws at him. Or fans could choose to forsake the idea of the story altogether and focus exclusively on the opportunity to enjoy Hanson’s music accompanied by an orchestra for the first and possibly only time. In any event, String Theory is a truly unique and rewarding experience.
Isaac stated during the show that String Theory marked the beginning of the second twenty-five years of their career. Hanson, I’ll be along for the ride!