A Gig To Change The World … and maybe you were there
From January 11th to 14th Hanson went to Jamaica and held a series of gigs with some of their most devoted and well travelled fans.
It was the second Back To The Island event and in some ways it mirrored the first, with familiar support artists and day time activities.
But without putting too fine a point on it, for Hanson and their fans this was not just another day in paradise.
In the history or rock and roll there have been gigs that have changed the world of music and maybe in some ways the world – gigs which because of their place in time opened up a new era in music or heralded the end of one.
They have been a watershed and marked a turning point.
Many of these have taken place in venues that Hanson has performed in and many have featured artists that Hanson admires.
In the spring of 67, Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, along with Booker T And the MGs, with Steve Cropper and other great soul artists from the Stax/Volt label, took songs like Respect, Hold on I’m coming, My Girl and Knock on Wood, to an audience that witnessed possibly the greatest ever show of soul music.
Described by Bono as one of America’s greatest ever bands, The Pixies arrived on the scene with music that was completely new and brought a raw, fresh authenticity for the 90s. In 91 they played a secret show at The Mean Fiddler in North London, to a crowd ignited by new music that seemed to cut right through the sludge and compromise.
In March 2005, Hanson took Underneath to the Mean Fiddler, a tiny venue soaked in beer and history and for some that remains their favourite ever Hanson show.
In June 97, Radiohead played Glastonbury. This was to be their homecoming performance and expectations ran high.
However, technical difficulties halfway through the show confounded the performance and it seemed possible at one point, that lead singer Thom Yorke would leave the stage. Suddenly and miraculously, the sound and lighting issues were resolved, Radiohead metaphorically lit up and a confidence filled the moment which transformed the performance and experience to something beyond incredible.
It seems that in the world of live music, bands from the newest to the most established and music from the startling to the soulful, can have such moments in time, ones that capture the heart and imagination of their audience and go down in their own history as among, or maybe even, the best.
For those who attended Hanson’s recent Back To The Island and for many watching from a distance, this event had touches of the magic that takes a moment and transforms it into an historic one.
Firstly, Hanson left the security of the 3 and for the first time, performed mini shows as solo artists. They took to the stage on separate nights, on their own; choose appropriate songs from their vast catalogue and using keys and strings, each brother demonstrated in his own right, independently of the rest, the tenor of his craft. The songwriting and the delivery were laid bare as Zac, Isaac and Taylor gave their own signature to Hanson music, feedback and all.
The set choices were clever and at times surprising, mixing up studio tracks with fan club specials and proving that almost any Hanson song can be stripped back to stand alone under the fading sunlight and hold its own.
They also performed their own rarities. These are the songs written either exclusively for the fan club or songs written and never added to a studio album but which sit firmly on the fan and possibly the band’s favourite lists.
If ever a moment was designed to break the hearts of the non attendees and induce gentle hysteria for the lucky ones, it was this.
The gold and silver of Hanson’s musical treasure trove glistened in the moonlight, bringing back an assortment of memories and reconnecting people with a great many first nights.
I wonder whether for Hanson, a rare moment such as this was also a great moment.
Maybe they too reconnected with stories, experiences and people which inspired something a little left of centre or more personal.
Maybe getting to play the less played, has a beauty and energy all of its own.
If the photos and video clips are anything to go by, Hanson took much pleasure from this experience. It is certain to be one that many fans will beg them to repeat.
For some fans this was declared the best show they had ever been to, and this is indeed praise. For among the fans in Jamaica, were some of Hanson’s hardest of the hardcore.
And then as if this wasn’t enough, Hanson invited fans to vote for the songs they wanted to hear for the final show.
This isn’t a new thing for Hanson, but combined with the rest, it made for an entire experience where over 80 songs were performed and only two, Every Word I Say and Best of Times, were performed more than once.
In their most recent newsletter, Hanson described the event as amazing and awesome, adding that from their perspective, seeing fans from almost every continent and eating local jerk chicken, helped to charge their batteries.
And not to mention the Tie-Dye, Hancyclopedia contest or JTH DJ after party, because these were but the icing on the cake.
What brought these travellers together was the music; the promise of hearing and watching the passionate, intense and completely honest performance of the best music.
And in the future what will keep them travelling is the music.
What will keep the music worth the journey, is the imagination and promise it holds.
What made this a Gig to Change the World, were the glances into the imagination, beauty and rarity of Hanson and their songwriting.
Maybe you were there. I wasn’t.. But I sure as hell will be next time.
For Pictures and videos from BTTI 2014 visit our archives.
Thanks for the inspiration and ideas to “I Was There, Gigs That Changed The World”
by Mark Paytress