Sometimes, dreams come true. When they do, it is often unexpectedly....long after you had given up on the idea. For me, that happened late in November. It was an ordinary day like most others. Until I checked my email and found that I had won a meet and greet for Hanson. My favourite band. (Not just my favourite band, but my favourite band since the age of ten.) I was ecstatic to say the least! Then a few days later, I received another email. The reporter for the show was unable to attend and they were offering me the spot. That meant not only would I get to meet my favourite band but I would get to interview them as well. Cue freak out.
I was in a panic, unsure of whether or not I would actually be able to complete the task. I mean, properly meeting Hanson had been on the top of my bucket list for decades. Would I pass out? Would I cry? Would I even be able to speak? I was full of doubt but was thankfully able to pull it together with support from loved ones and lots of positive thoughts. As the reporter, my interview was recorded (and is currently posted on hanson.net) and I was asked to write a full review of my experience for the website. Today, I wanted to share the latter with you all.
The first time I heard Hanson, everything in my life changed. Almost immediately, I tossed aside albums from other artists and stopped listening to bands that didn’t fill me with the same inspiration and wonder that Hanson did. Who could have guessed that more than twenty years later, I would be interviewing that very band? It all started on a cold and windy day in late November. After several hours and various forms of public transportation, I had finally arrived at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. That night would mark the second of two shows Hanson was playing in town…. and I was eager to finally see the String Theory tour live.
It was a buzz of nervous energy as the meet and greet winners waited to be ushered inside the venue. We spent time swapping stories, discussing the new album, and fighting against the freezing temperatures. Eventually, everything started to happen. We went inside for the meet and greet - and the energy became even more excited and frenzied. Eventually, we were separated into groups and then group by group, the meet and greets began. I waited until finally, it was my turn to meet Hanson. As I walked towards the band that meant everything to me…my entire body shook. It was completely overwhelming. Thankfully, Taylor, Isaac, and Zac were extremely kind and supportive. I told them how nervous I was – and they did everything they could to put me at ease.
We quickly snapped a photo together and then sat down to conduct the interview. It was nerve-wracking, but having the opportunity to ask Hanson a few questions was an incredible honour. First we chatted about what was left on their musical bucket list, post String Theory tour. (They mentioned taking an adventure trip and writing about that experience, an a capella record with Bobby McFerrin, and joked about being the first band to record an album on the moon.) We also talked about the history of Breaktown, my favourite song, and the process of choosing songs that best fit String Theory.
Next, I asked them whether they had gone back to watch some of their older tour videos, like Tulsa, Tokyo, and the Middle of Nowhere, and they had! For them, they were like old home movies. We also discussed their favourite things to do in Toronto (their answers mostly related to places to eat, though Taylor was fond of all the water and beautiful scenery) and lastly, two things that had made them smile that day (which were all about children and babies). It was wonderful to sit and talk with them…. and to have an actual conversation with the band I had listened to and loved for decades. It was a surreal experience, but easily one of the best I could ever have imagined. We said our goodbyes and then it was back to reality!
Post interview, I met up with friends old and new, tried to process the fact that I had met and spoken to Hanson, and got ready to enjoy the String Theory concert. Though I have been to many, many Hanson shows in the past, this was unlike any I had seen before. The inclusion of the orchestra added dimension and layers to an already incredible musical catalogue. It all started with a passionate rendition of Reaching For the Sky (Part One) before moving into up-tempo songs like Joyful Noise, and Where’s the Love. They continued to play the entire first disc of the String Theory album, while an enthusiastic crowd sang along to each and every word. The addition of the orchestra was wonderful throughout, but really shone on songs like Yearbook and Me Myself and I.
Though Hanson had played eleven songs, I was surprised at how quickly the intermission seemed to arrive. Perhaps this is because the show had me completely and totally transfixed! Every moment, every song, was inspiring. It felt good to sit back and enjoy all of the musicianship and unexpected moments. (Like Isaac playing the piano!) During intermission, the audience took time to meet up with friends, mingle, and discuss the show so far. Before long, it was time to start again.
The second half of the show began with Reaching For the Sky (Part Two) and was immediately followed up with fan favourite, This Time Around. The energy was high and continued to grow with each song that followed. Later on, there were a number of noteworthy moments, like Broken Angel (with Zac on the piano and Taylor on the drums) and Breaktown (which was a thrill to hear live). Immediately following the latter, the audience stood up, crowded the front of the stage, and let loose. Everyone danced their way through No Rest For the Weary and a couple of other songs before the evening closed with Tonight. It was an incredible night from start to finish.
November 21st was memorable. I was able to cross three things off my bucket list in just one day: meet Hanson, get a picture with Hanson, and hear Breaktown live. So, what happens when everything you ever wanted just falls into place? You smile. A lot.