BY THOMAS CONNER
© Tulsa World
I felt daring. I thought it would be a bold experiment.
I figured that as a music journalist at the second hometown
Hanson concert it was my duty to have the raw experience --
to hear the full and frenzied screaming of the crowd.
So I took out my earplugs.
Just for a second.
Ow. Big mistake.
Hanson is hardly old hat for Tulsans. Thursday night's
sold-out concert of more than 8,000 breathless, hysterical
fans filled the Mabee Center — often host to more serene
worship services — with as much (if not more) yelping,
gasping and general high-decibel swooning than the first
Tulsa concert on July 8.
The trio may sing "Where's the
Love?" to its other teeming bunches across the continent,
but the question is moot in front of the fawning hometown
crowd. Those valued earplugs, though, are designed to
screen out the noise and let in the music.
those aren't one in the same. Even though the last thing on
most young girls' minds is the music, the Hanson moptops
churn out plenty of good and grooving sound. Whatever your
opinion of the boys' bubblegum bop and girlish locks, no
one can watch a Hanson concert without reaching the
conclusion that these kids are really in it for the music.
The frothing girls are a bonus by-product for now, the
serenade is their greatest thrill.
Ours, too. When the excitement of actually seeing the
boys in the flesh boils down by midshow, everyone realizes
what solid music they're hearing. The Hanson brothers were
raised on classic R&B — much of which they cover throughout
the show with respect if not always fire — and their
performances are saturated in soul. Taylor's deepening
voice allows him to pull off a fair Steve Winwood
impression in the Spencer Davis Group's "Gimme Some Lovin' "
though these young rascals miss the spark of the Young
Rascals' "Good Lovin.' " They encored with a righteous take
on a hometown standard, "Livin' on Tulsa Time." Also, in this
show they added a cover of Steppenwolf's "Magic Carpet Ride,"
a smart choice musically even though they might not have
gotten the sexual leer of it quite yet.
As always, though, they shine brightest during their own
material: the R&B-injected "Where's the Love," the momentous
ballads "With You in Your Dreams" and "Weird" (the "Open Arms" of
the '90s), and the intriguing new song "If You're Ever
Lonely," a moody plea that sounds like Ace-era Paul Carrack.
Once again, the mid-show acoustic set was the brightest
moment of the concert, allowing them to show off their
oft-doubted instrumental chops and unbeatable harmonies.
The vocalizing in "Soldier" is breathtaking; if only it
wasn't a throw-away lyric about toys. Still, when Isaac has
his moment alone at the keyboards for "More Than Anything,"
his deft command of balladry, showmanship and a fairly
arresting tune makes for a goose-pimply moment.
Soon after, though, Zac is spraying the front rows with
a water rifle, so we're brought back to reality. There's
really little tomfoolery, though, and even less blatant
teen-idol posturing. These guys always come to play music
and nothing more, despite the diversionary fuss that
follows them everywhere. They thank the crowd profusely and
just crank out the songs — about 23 in a 100-minute show.
Sure, we have to wear the earplugs today for the screaming
girls, but one day the screams will die away and — yes, just
like the Beatles — their musical legacy will be all that
matters. But hang onto the plugs, for now. Hansonmania is
likely going to be a long, strange trip.
And don't forget, this concert is a double-bill of Tulsa
talent. Admiral Twin opens the show, and though their
Thursday night performance hinted at the exhaustion of the
unending summer, they still packed a wallop and kept the
throng on its feet. Bassist Mark Carr and guitarist John
Russell work as a tag team, taking turns striking the rock
star pose at the edge of stage right. Fortunately, they
aren't just posing. Carr's focused bass and Russell's
lively guitar propel the pop band with real force. The guys
are still promising a forthcoming announcement of a
possible label deal. Stay tuned.
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.