Portland, OR, 2nd August 2000

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The Crystal Ballroom

Hanson serves up lots of pleasant pop.

by Michael Evans for the Oregonian

Portland Oregon 8/2/2000

Over the years, the hallowed concert hall has hosted shows by everyone from the Ike and Tina Turner Revue to local punk torchbearers Sleater-Kinney. The Grateful Dead made a semi-legendary appearance here, way back in 1968. And if you didn’t know any better, you’d think that Neil Diamond parodists Super Diamond have taken up permanent residence in the place of late.

hanson_group_sepia_2But the Crystal Ballroom has seen nothing like a Hanson concert. Until now.

The “MMMBop” boys made their long-awaited Portland concert debut Wednesday night, playing a sold out show at the venerable West Burnside venue.

Although having been displaced in the marketplace by the likes of “N Sync”, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, these “old men of teen pop” showed that their 1997 multimillion-selling major label debut “Middle of Nowhere” wasn’t a one-hit-wonder-driven fluke. The Oklahoma-based brothers Hanson – Guitarist Isaac, 19; keyboardist Taylor, 17; and drummer Zac, 14 – turned in a solid one-hour, 45-minute set of irresistible, soulful pop rock.

Cheered on by a contingent of clapping, sign-waving and constantly screaming adolescent girls (plus a smattering of their less-demonstrative parents), Hanson, along with a trio of nondescript backing musicians, managed to overcome an extremely muddy sound mix to deliver its criminally catchy pop goods.

Not that the concert sound really mattered all that much, as the band was often drowned out by “The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl” shrieking of their ardent admirers.

Unlike most of their pop-singing peers, Hanson is a relatively Svengali-free operation – not only do they play their own instruments, but they write their own songs as well.

Their latest disc “This Time Around” refreshingly lacks the manufactured, overly crafted aftertaste that plagues the work of its teen-targeting colleagues.

While all three brothers share equally in the spotlight, when all is said and done, Taylor is the most compelling Hanson. As de facto lead singer and front man, the middle Hanson is a bundle of  ebullient energy, bouncing buoyantly behind (and away from) his keyboards, the driving force behind such irresistible pieces of ear candy as the Rick Springfield-esque romper “Runaway Run” and the exhilarating “Where’s the Love”.

For a bunch of clean-cut, reputedly clean-living kids, they rock pretty convincingly, especially on such hammering recent fare as “Can’t Stop”, “In the City” and the earthy, soulful title song to “This Time Around”, which you would swear was a Black Crowes cover.

Speaking of covers, the Hanson-ized version of Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride” worked much better than it should have, the brisk rendering of the 60’s psychedelic biker anthem giving all those folks born before the Reagan era something from their own childhood to sing along to.

If history is any indication, the vast majority of these girls now screaming the praises of Isaac, Taylor and Zac will, like their New Kids on the Block-worshipping moms before them, soon forsake their teen pop idols, to move on to more “mature” fare.

Which is too bad. Just because you grow up you shouldn’t grow out of enjoying good pop records of the sort that Hanson makes – and will likely continue to make for many years to come.

As we know, the last predictions in this piece were wrong. Still here, still rocking to Hanson, growing with the music! 

Posted by Hanfan 2000

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