Rock: Serious indie-pop musicians are getting younger every day

WHEN the great Pop Fan World War breaks out - Mods vs Rockers, Blurites vs Oasisians - I'm going to be signing up with the Hanson fans. They are terrifying. On Tuesday evening, Wembley Arena was engulfed by a raging ocean of female hormones, ravaged by a marauding army of pubescent girls in crop tops, with braces on their teeth, cardboard signs in their hands, and "Tay" and "Zac" daubed Pictishly on their faces. They're at a dangerous age: young enough to scream themselves in half at any provocation, and old enough to be provoked by the sight of a roadie wearing shorts; young enough to have the nuclear excitability of nursery schoolgirls, but old enough to ensure that if they stampede, innocent bystanders would be crushed.

I wouldn't fancy Hanson's chances in a stage invasion. The boys who fire the blood of this frenzed mob are three polite blond brothers from Oklahoma, and like their fans, they are balanced between childhood and young-adulthood. Lead singer and keyboard player is Taylor, 15: junior Kurt Cobain looks, any-aged Michael Jackson voice. His big brother is Isaac, 17, guitarist and walking growth-spurt. Finally, there is 12-year-old Zac, the drummer, who looks like Macaulay Culkin did in the days when people went to see his films.

The triple-whammy novelty value - they're young, they're brothers, they perform their own material - would be enough to propel them to stardom by itself, but Hanson wouldn't be filling Wembley Arena if they didn't have at least one infuriatingly catchy song. They've got at least two. "Where's the Love" and "MMMBop" sound as if they weren't written, but fell fully formed from the pop-classic tree. They're so fun and clever that they expose Another Level, 911, MN8 and all the other Take That-wannabes - who could swap members every other week without anyone noticing - as the graceless, faceless automatons they are. And if you don't believe me, judge Hanson by the company they keep. The brothers' breakthrough album, last year's Middle of Nowhere (Mercury), was put together by Steve Lironi and the Dust Brothers, producers of Black Grape and Beck respectively. (I call it their breakthrough album because, unbelievably, Hanson had two previous LPs. On the first one, Zac's vocals were recorded via an ultrasound scanner.) Hanson are, strictly metaphorically, head and shoulders above the competition.

After an opening medley of "Gimme Some Loving" and "Shake a Tail Feather", Taylor asks if we're ready to rock. And, my goodness, rock is what they do: Hanson's show appears to be designed as an indie audience training ground. Yes, the boys look cute and play cute songs, but the rites of the teeny concert have been replaced, piece by piece, by the rites of the grown-up gig. Any sort of choreographed dancing is out. Pyrotechnics and video screens are verboten. There is just a band, with instruments, playing songs. There's not a lot of talking to the audience between those songs either, and what there is is usually mumbled. There is a segment in the middle in which the trio sit in a huddle and play some acoustic songs, and for the rest of the time the band are noisier and markedly less polished than they are on their records (Taylor's voice has sunk an octave since Middle of Nowhere was recorded, so some of the harmonies have vanished). Get used to it, Hanson fans. One day, all the gigs you go to will be like this.

The Zacchanalians didn't seem too downhearted by this prospect. The show lacked the pure pizzazz of an all-dancing, all-teasing boy-band spectacular, and any praise for Hanson as a kickin' rock'n'roll combo has to be followed by the qualification "for their age". But they did succeed in mixing some of the bubblegum appeal of the former genre with some of the visceral thrills of the latter. The biggest surprise was to see that although the brothers' sound was beefed up by a bassist, an extra keyboard player and an extra guitarist, there was no back-up drummer. Zac is a startlingly fast and muscular player (for his age).

And unlike almost any other group with a mid-teen fan base, Hanson have a future: they have the natural talent to keep going when they're old enough to vote. On Tuesday, Isaac set out to prove that there's more to them than fizzy pop hits by putting his heart into a sensitive solo piano ballad, "More Than Anything". The Zacchanalians, ignoring his plea for quiet, yelled their lungs out as deafeningly as they did during every other second of the show. So, that's an introduction to another grown- up gig ritual: the bit when the band get thoroughly sick of being screamed at and demand to be taken seriously as mature artists.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

    £25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

    Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Developer - HTML, CSS, Javascript

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Application Developer - ...

    Ashdown Group: B2B Marketing Manager - Events, Digital, Offline

    £45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: B2B Marketing Manager (Events, Digit...

    Guru Careers: Senior Account Manager / SAM

    £30 - 35k: Guru Careers: A Senior Account Manager / SAM is needed to join the ...

    Day In a Page

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
    Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

    The end of an era across the continent

    It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
    Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

    'Focus on killing American people'

    Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
    Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

    Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

    The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
    Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

    Same-sex marriage

    As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
    The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

    The Mafia is going freelance

    Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable