8.6.2022 Kuumaa & Hanson @ Kulttuuritalo, Helsinki

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If you haven’t heard of the band HANSON, you might as well have been living under a rock for 30 years. The American pop-rock band have warmed the hearts of audiences around the world ever since their inception in the early ’90s. While perhaps most people know them from their monster hit “MmmBop,” the brothers have been very actively releasing new music and, in fact, they recently released a brand new album, “Red Green Blue.” The record marks the band’s milestone 30th anniversary by bringing together the band’s three unique creative voices like never before, with a third of the album written and produced by each brother: Taylor’s “Red,” Isaac’s “Green,” and Zac’s “Blue” – altogether a killer record and also our main motivation for checking them out on their Red Green Blue Tour.

Support act KUUMAA was a name I had never heard of before, so thankfully they started out punctually at 19:00 – I already like them. We were presented with a form of soft pop that infused electronic elements and had replaced a keyboard setup with a smallish synth and a laptop. The vocalist had a very pleasant and mellow voice, sang solely in Finnish, and despite the softness of the songs, had a decent amount of energy, swinging from left to right on stage. The band seemed to be amazed by the fact that they could open for the three most-known non-Jackson brothers in music history. For someone who primarily visits rock and metal shows, it was peculiar to see only a bass player and no guitarist. Yet, this sort of gave the songs more depth by adding in a jazzy undertone. In fact, the singer would also be a good fit for a jazz band due to his soulful voice.

Unfortunately, the sound was sort of drum-heavy and while this wasn’t super bothersome on the whole, it did become more apparent during the ballad, as the drums sort of overpowered everything else. During the same track, the singer pulled out a violin from seemingly out of nowhere and also showed us that he’s a fairly decent violinist too, giving the song a bit of a folky note. When he was done, he let the audience sing along with him and it turns out that this band is more popular than I had realized since almost everyone around me was able to sing along to their lyrics – what the hell!?

Huawei P20 Lite

Now, if you are planning to see HANSON, there is something you should know about attending their show. You need two things to make it a successful evening: a fairly decent set of ear protective gear and glowsticks. As mentioned earlier, I mostly attend shows that are more towards the heavier spectrum, which usually means that I’m one of the only women in the audience. Here, it was the other way around. From the moment the three brothers appeared on stage all the way to the end of their set, there was a lot of screaming – I’m guilty too. Additionally, people seemed to carry around glowsticks in red, green, and blue. Where did they get them from? Were they handed over while entering the venue? Were you able to get them from the merch? Literally no idea, but it did at a little something fun to the atmosphere of the show!

As mentioned, the trio recently released their new album, “Red Green Blue” and having never seen a HANSON performance before, I had no clue what to expect. Before the show, I didn’t check out their setlists of prior tours and because this was the first night of their upcoming tour, its setlist was also a big mystery. I had been wondering whether they still play their biggest ’90s hits, despite having written them when they were teenagers. To my surprise, the band immediately opened up with one of their early-day-hits, “Where’s the Love.” The energetic song, including a harmonica, was the perfect opener to a really dynamic show. The first few songs off the setlist were almost all focused on “Middle of Nowhere” and “This Time Around,” with the exception of the newer “Against the World.” During the speeches, Taylor Hanson mostly talked and focused a lot on the fact that the band is celebrating their 30th anniversary as a band and the 25th anniversary of their first music. While he seemed pretty excited, it was a bit of a double-feeling, since I started to feel old quite already in the beginning of the setlist.

Huawei P20 Lite

“Don’t Let Me Down” was the first track featuring Zac Hanson as a vocalist, something that suited him very well behind his drum kit – drummers that sing must be the epitome of multitasking done right. HANSON only recently had released that song as a single, yet the audience seemed to know the lyrics to it already and seemed to enjoy every minute of it. Additionally, it appeared to be an excellent live track as well (as many of the new songs turned out to be). Following up with the 2007 release, “Great Divide” kept the tempo up, while the emotional “Save Me” was definitely one of the highlights of the show and a goosebumps-inducing moment.

While the trio (with the addition of guitarist Dimitrius Collins and bass player Andrew Perusi) shuffled from album to album during the set, one of my favorite moments definitely was the acoustic version of “Penny & Me,” the song that put the band back on the radar for me. This was followed by a moment for Isaac Hanson to completely shine with “For Your Love.” The obvious highlight of the show, “MmmBop” followed a couple of songs before the 3-song encore. It’s incredibly how these classic hits from the ’90s still sound incredibly mature and fun.

Altogether, fans were served an extended journey through HANSON‘s 30 years of music-making: there were songs representing each era of the band and altogether, it was an amazing experience hearing both classic HANSON songs, as well as the incredible songs from “Red Green Blue.” Shows nowadays have gotten quite expensive due to the pandemic, however, priced at €49, this performance was worth every penny due to the extensive repertoire the band played through; twenty-eight songs! The only complaint I can think of was the fact that this was primarily a seated show. While Kulttuuritalo also offers standing tickets on the floor, the audience was now seated, which truthfully seemed a bit pointless since most of the crowd left the seats and spent the evening dancing to the songs. All-in-all, however, it was quite the quest through the musical history of one of the biggest bands from the ’90s era and thus an excellent celebration!

Written by Laureline Tilkin

Setlist

  1. Where’s the Love
  2. A Minute Without You
  3. Against the World
  4. Thinking of You
  5. If Only
  6. Don’t Let Me Down
  7. Great Divide
  8. Save Me
  9. Child At Heart
  10. Go (acoustic)
  11. Good Days (Zac solo)
  12. Penny & Me (acoustic)
  13. For Your Love (Isaac solo)
  14. Write You a Song
  15. This Time Around
  16. Cold As Ice
  17. Thinking ‘Bout Somethin’
  18. Annalie
  19. Crazy Beautiful (Taylor solo)
  20. I Will Come To You
  21. Only Love
  22. MMMBop
  23. Get the Girl Back
  24. Voice in the Chorus
  25. Lost Without Each Other
  26. A Song to Sing (encore)
  27. Hey (encore)
  28. Weird (chorus acapella) (encore)