BY THOMAS CONNER
© Tulsa World
If Hanson is the future of teeny-bop, I'm going to start
hunting for the fountain of youth. But, no, this isn't
music that can be easily lumped into that derisive
Hanson shares nothing in common with bands usually
referred to as teeny-bop, bubble gum or sugar pop. No way
did New Kids on the Block put on a show with this much
conviction, and I'll wager a good chunk of my retirement
money that Taylor Hanson could wither every one of the
Backstreet Boys to cinders with his voice alone.
Hanson is much better than that, and the proof was in
the group's eagerly awaited hometown concert Wednesday
night at the Mabee Center.
These three kids from Tulsa, America, have got soul.
They're steeped in it. They drip it all over the stage. I
don't know where they got it, but they've got a firm grip
on it. They were kind enough to set the Mabee Center on
fire with it for nearly two hours Wednesday. It makes
sense — they were raised on '50s and '60s rhythm and blues
and rock 'n' roll. They tried to justify those roots
Wednesday night, too, by opening the show with “Gimme Some
Lovin'' and covering other soulful oldies, like “Doctor,
Doctor'' and “Summertime Blues.''
That's all well and good, and it pacifies the parents
who feel dragged along, but it hardly makes a case to book
three teen- agers into any city's biggest arena.
Hanson, delightfully enough, shines brightest when
they're Hanson, playing their own songs. After a cautious
delivery of “Thinking of You,'' they launched into their
second big hit, “Where's the Love,'' and the house started
This was the moment they themselves seemed to come
alive. This was a song in which they had a personal stake
and one they could back with the impressive — but still
limited — arsenal of life experiences. They can mimic
the great soul pioneers — and Taylor easily does, frequently
throwing in a very James Brown-ish “C'mon!'' But they can
throw down by themselves, too. When they do, it's
Even a completely silly, throw-away song like
“Soldier'' became a dynamic performance live. It's an
absurd little story of a lonely toy soldier, but when
Taylor thwaps his keyboard and sings, “He sank to the
bottom of the rivah,'' this goofy tale suddenly has almost
They played that song during a stripped-down, unplugged
set, complete with armchair and mood lamps. The full-bore
band sets that book-ended this intermission were exciting
and tight, but this acoustic set illustrated just how
durable these three mop-tops will prove to be.
This is how Hanson's talent was sown, just sitting down
and playing. That their songs are strengthened by this kind
of delivery indicates a long life ahead.
The acoustic set ended with Taylor and Zac leaving
eldest brother Isaac alone on stage for a solo number at
the piano. Isaac started off as the trio's lead singer, and
he was shoved aside once the more buxom Taylor's voice came
into its own.
That was unfortunate, because as the latest record,
“Three Car Garage,'' shows, Isaac is a strong singer. He
definitely has an overly romantic streak, but his solo was
surprisingly moving. If Fiona Apple ever experiences a
relationship that doesn't make her feel dirty and cheap,
she and Isaac could make beautiful music together.
The show was sprinkled with moments that appeared to be
special for the Tulsa audience. Other than repeatedly
assuring us how glad they were to be playing at home, the
Hansons played several songs introduced as “a song we
played around here a lot'' or “a song that's only been
played in Tulsa.''
The crowd, of course, loved every minute of it. Of
course, Zac could have sat on the edge of the stage and
clipped his toenails, and the girls still would have
But one day, rest assured, these girls will look back on
these exciting concert moments and listen to “Middle of
Nowhere'' again. They'll cock their heads and realize how
good the music is, how it still holds up, how it still gets
them moving and brings to mind happy times.
These online "clips" reproduce a self-selection of my journalism (music etc) during the last 20+ years. It's a lotta stuff, but it only scratches the surface. I do not currently possess the time or resources to digitize the whole body of work. These posts are simply a bunch of pretty great days at the office.