(Author's Note: Some of this is directly cut-and-pasted from my "official" report, and some is embellished. If it doesn't "flow" too well, too bad. Nyah.)
8 October 2003:
I was mindlessly going through my Hanson.net email account before I left for work, sifting through various messages from the Illinois Street Team, and just browsing the text and not even paying attention to the subject headings, when a message with the following opening sentence came up:
"You have been selected to be the Hanson.net reporter for Cleveland."
Oddly, there was no exclamation point, no expression of excitement on the part of the writer of said email. That's alright; I certainly filled out the excitement requirement!!! I was practically hyperventilating…did I even read the rest of the email right after that? No. I collapsed on the floor, repeating, "omigod omigod omigod" like it was some sort of twisted mantra, and scaring the crap out of my black cat Ringo, making her tear out of the room in search of a room with more sane occupants.
I frantically dialed my husband's cell phone (he was on his way to work), and knowing that he would think something was wrong because of the way I would be talking, I started it out with, "OK, this is good news," and proceeded to tell him of my wonderful, unexpected fortune.
13 October 2003:
I packed. Boy, did I pack. I packed no less than three pairs of pants/jeans and six shirts, warning my friend Gene that he would be subjected to a panicked fashion show sometime the next day. On the 6-hour drive to Cleveland (in which Gene tried to teach me how to drive stick--more on that later), I entertained him with a combination of Hanson and non-Hanson music, the non-Hanson serving as a sorbet of sorts. I wouldn't want him to O.D. on Hanson on his way out there! (Actually, he had admitted to a previous Hanson encounter: when he lived with Adam and me, and he was there by himself, and wanted some noise while he was cooking, he popped in the Fillmore DVD. I was so proud!)
Speaking of the trying-to-drive-stick…four people have tried to teach me, on four different cars, on four different occasions…and four times I have failed. This time, he wanted me to drive out of one of the nifty oases on the Indiana Toll Road. I didn't make it out of the parking lot. It was sad--pathetic-sad, not boo-hoo-sad. He said, "Oh, you just need to get used to it," trying to be as reassuring as possible. Didn't work. We finally got to the Wyndham Cleveland at Playhouse Square around 2ish a.m., got our standard issue SpongeBob Squarepants room keys (no joke), took the talking elevator ("Level Three"), and quickly fell asleep.
14 October 2003:
We were in Cleveland--you can't go to Cleveland and NOT go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum! So we did…unfortunately, as anyone knows, it's hard to see and read EVERYTHING in there in one day, so we breezed through. I was initially looking for Isaac's first guitar, which, two years prior, had been in the "On the Charts" display (and I went back and looked at it three times; different story for a different day). It wasn't though, but there was a nice exhibit, "50 Years of Teen Idols", that caught my eye. My heart skipped a beat when I saw Jordan Knight's black-and-white-with-red-stars-on-the-sleeves jacket he wore in the Coca-Cola Magic Summer commercials (even though, as everyone knows, Joe McIntyre was my favorite New Kid). I skimmed the other outfits--Bobby Sherman, David Cassidy, Christina Aguilera…and as I neared the end of the row, my eyes fell on a short-sleeved soft burgundy henley shirt and jeans. The text read: "Zach Hanson, from the 'If Only' music video." Yup, they misspelled his name. I silently bitched about it, then continued to my right, around the curve, and I spotted a pair of jeans and a wool-lined jean jacket belonging to one Taylor Hanson. I'm not stupid; I knew what was coming next. I raced around to where I spied a pair of grey slacks, a light blue oxford shirt covered by an off-white chunky sweater and a olive-drab-ish jacket with patches, worn by Mr. Isaac Hanson. I must've stared at that for a while. I really wanted to touch his shoes. I was freaking out a bit, not only because there were their clothes, but I was beginning to worry--if I was freaking out that much over clothes, what was I gonna do when I actually met the people who once wore said clothes?! But even in my fog of wow, I still remembered to let the nearest docent know that they had made an error.
After boring Gene with the requisite "Does this look okay" fashion parade that probably lasted about 1/2 an hour, we ventured out into the windy, rainy, chilly weather. Dinner was just down the road, at Subway on Euclid in downtown Cleveland. I braved a Meatball sub, being extra careful and even fashioning a bib out of a couple Subway napkins. The radio station they had on--Cleveland's Q 104.1--was on commercial, and I was chatting with Gene about whatever (probably hoping I wouldn't make an ass of myself), and suddenly I heard the familiar opening strums heralding "Penny and Me". I spazzed just a little, mainly because I was glad to hear it on the radio, but soon realized it was a replay from their appearance at the radio station that morning. I thought, "Oh well, I would rather have gone to the Rock Hall anyway!"
Hanson came into Cleveland with the rain, which didn't let up until about two hours before show time, and were "gone with the wind" in the evening, as an overnight high wind warning closed schools the following day and made travel difficult for those leaving the concert. I was afraid for Hanson and their bus, with it being so windy, but luckily the wind was from the north; I'll bet they got great mileage on the trip south to Cincinnati! The bartender at the Cleveland Flats Buffalo Wild Wings Restaurant stated with surprise that "this is the biggest concert we've had here in a long time, and it's Hanson." Those who had been waiting outside in the rain--some for more than 24 hours--came into the restaurant to use the restroom, wring out their clothes, and warm up. Another fan stated, "Every time Hanson has come to Cleveland, it's rained." I was hoping that the wet, cold, and most likely hungry and tired fans wouldn't carry that mood into the concert.
I arrived at 4:30 pm, and told the mysterious voice on the call box that I was Winona Patterson, the Hanson.net reporter, and I needed to pick up my reporter pass. She said that she didn't know anything about it, and I told her to ask Micah, he'd probably be looking for me. Micah came to the door and I introduced myself as just Winona. He asked again, "OK, so who are you?" and seemed genuinely peeved that an anonymous fan was dragging him away from whatever task he was on at that time. I explained that I was the Hanson.net reporter, and the light bulb went on above his head. "OH! Ok, you need to be back here at 6:30." So, my friend Gene and I went down to Buffalo Wild Wings to pass the time, have a beer and play some NTN trivia. The trivia greatly calmed my nerves, as I was quite nervous about meeting Hanson, talking coherently to them, and getting good pictures for the concert. And, by the way, I (mmmbop, of course) won all three games we played. Take that, Mr. "putrgk"! Gene, of course, was jazzed simply for the fact that they had Labatt Blue on tap. 6:30 rolled around, and by that time I was back at the front of the Odeon Concert Club, waiting with the Meet & Greet crowd, each of us wearing our standard-issue patriotic wristbands. My mothering instincts took over, and I was calming down the hyper and nervous fans, and I met some wonderful people, too. Micah brought over a few more people for the Meet & Greet (see, it pays to bring your fan club membership card!), whom I definitely had to calm down, I got my fashionable red-and-white Odeon Photo Pass and we were led into the side bar area to wait for Hanson.
When they came into the room, I surprised myself at how calm I was. Zac entered first, followed by Isaac and then Taylor, with Micah mixed in somewhere. They were extremely genial, friendly, and warm, and the previous reporters and Meet & Greets I talked to were right--these guys are normal people who happen to be in a rock band, they act normal, and will make you feel totally comfortable from the start. The guys asked who the reporter was and Micah gestured to me. They shook my hand and thanked me for being the reporter for the show. I took the pictures for the Meet & Greet, and I was impressed at my easy rapport with the guys...Taylor made fun of me for using the word "frugal", which got Isaac and me on a tangent on the Frugal Gourmet which went into the Iron Chef. I even stopped Zac, who was being his usual fun & hyper self, and told him that he really needed to come out of his shell. Isaac responded with "Well, you need to stop shooting your red laser thingy at us!" I replied, "I'm sorry, I don't know why it's doing that--it's a friend's camera!" Isaac instantly switched from Funny Isaac to Informative Isaac with, "Actually, it's an auto-focus feature on your camera that uses a laser." I thanked him, of course! When everyone had met and "gret" (!) Hanson, they were ushered out of the room, leaving me alone with Hanson.
Oh, by the way, here's my M&G pic (click on it for the REALLYBIG version):
Zac gestured us over to a corner where some barstools had been shoved together to make room for the picture-taking. Yup, no-frills reporting, just the four of us sitting on barstools, in a floor area no more than 4' x 4'. Again, I was surprised at how calm I was, and I stated it out loud, to which Taylor replied, "We're glad you're calm!" I wanted to ask them if they'd had any spazzy reporters, but it got lost in my brain's shuffle of questions. I mentioned to them how hyper I had been seeing Paul McCartney in April 2002 in the 6th row, for which I paid $500. Zac leaned into me, squinted his face up in disbelief, and said, "You paid FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS to see Paul McCartney?!" I said, "Yeah!", and then he said that he wouldn't pay $500 to see anyone. I honestly stated that I wouldn't pay $500 to see Hanson, and Isaac added, "I wouldn't pay $500 to see me either!" I handed Zac a birthday card with Batman on it (I knew from a previous interview that he was into superheroes; he even loudly sang the "Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na--BATMAN!" theme), and had to explain my gift of $1 to him. Taylor sarcastically said, "One dollar. That's a really nice gift." I explained that I had given Zac $1 so he could buy an instant lottery ticket when he turned 18. Zac thanked me, and Isaac asked, "Well, what if it costs more than a dollar?" I said, "Zac can call me and I'll send him more money!" Isaac then mentioned that Oklahoma doesn' t have a state lottery, and that he was kinda against the lottery system anyway because he thought it encouraged people to gamble. I replied, "Even if the money goes to education?" and said after a second of thought, "Yeah, but still…", standing his ground. Zac leaned over, shook my hand again, looked me right in the eyes, and gave me a very soft and sincere "Thank you" in an "I apologize for my idiot brother" tone of voice.
While Zac was still holding his birthday card, I mentioned that when I went to the Rock Hall that morning, I found that his name was misspelled (as "Zach") on the display of their clothes from the "If Only" video in the "50 Years of Teen Idols" exhibit. Zac ranted, "Everyone misspells my name--it's a phonetic word, three letters, four looks stupid! Z-a-c-k is Zac-kkkk and Z-a-c-h is Zachhhh!" I was going to mention that people misspell and mispronounce my name--Winona--all the time, but the three guys were so energetic and involved in our conversation, I soon forgot. Can I mention that I must've been the first person who didn't report that any of them said, "If we're talking too fast, let us know" and I never said, "OK, slow down, I'm trying to get this all down"…I only had five minutes with them, I wanted to squeeze as much as I could into those five minutes!
I finally got to my real questions, the first one being, "Are there any of your songs you wrote when you were younger that you look back and think, 'Man, that song sucks'?" They each chuckled, Taylor said, "Absolutely," and Isaac said, "Yep, but you've never heard them!" Zac added that there were none of those that ended up on the records, that sometimes they'd start a song, then later on wonder why they didn't finish it, and then think, oh yeah, I hate that song. Isaac added, "Anything you've heard, it doesn't suck." So rest assured, all songs we've heard on record or live have gotten Hanson's Official Seal of Approval! Zac continued to explain that different influences come into your life as you grow, and your songwriting gets better, and sometimes your older songs aren't who you are at that later moment. Somehow (sorry, I couldn't write everything down, I didn't want to ask them to slow down, and they didn't offer…I wanted to just sit and talk with them about anything and everything!), we got off topic and Taylor mentioned that "That's why we probably will never play 'Yearbook' live, because it's just too hard to pull off live," and Isaac agreed, adding that it is a difficult song. It's funny that he had mentioned that, because several people outside before the concert asked me to ask them why they've never played "Yearbook"! Anyway, after Taylor's comment, I remarked while I was writing down their comments, "Well, that's why the Beatles stopped touring," to which Taylor responded, "No, the Beatles stopped touring 'cause they couldn't hear themselves." Being a huge Beatles fan, I said, "Alright, if there's time, we'll get into that one later!" and the three of them laughed.
I next asked, "Which of you do you think would benefit most from a visit from the Queer Eye guys?" (I think Zac was trying to peek at my notebook; I should've said something!) They all agreed, "None of us!" Both Taylor and Zac said they'd never get in the front door. Zac stated that they dress straight men to look like gay men, and Taylor added that they were elevating gay men because they assume "gay men have style." I replied that I've known some gay men who were total slobs. Zac added that the gay men on the show are stereotyping themselves into what the public perceives as "gay".
I got back on topic of the Beatles, with what ended up being my last question, as I was told by Micah that my time was almost up. I asked if they were aware of the upcoming Beatles release Let It Be...Naked, and what they thought of it. They all said they knew of it, but Taylor asked me to remind him of the story behind it. What the Beatles are doing is releasing Let It Be without the production that Phil Spector added when the Beatles turned over the master tapes to him in 1969. Paul McCartney especially has been vocally critical of Spector's work on the album, and is the driving force behind the release. Anyway, Isaac immediately said that he thought the release was "dangerous." I commented, "Well, if there's time, we can talk about Paul McCartney's revisionist history." He smiled. (sigh!) Zac said it was stupid, and that it was such an amazing record, everybody loves it, and why should the Beatles hurt their own music. Taylor said that they were taking away from the love of the music. Zac added that it would hurt the audience, because they (the surviving Beatles) are tampering with music that the public loves and is familiar with. Taylor said that you can't go backwards. Isaac finally got another word in edgewise, admitting that it may be interesting, but it's still dangerous.
Then my time was up and we all joked about my "quickie" interview with Hanson. (I think either Zac or I said something to the effect of "all three Hansons in 5 minutes--a record!") I shook hands again with the guys, and asked for a quick autograph. Taylor took the notebook first, and seemed to be writing forever, then handed it to Isaac and Zac. (When I looked at it later, the guys had signed it with their names, and Taylor had written "Thanx for the 'quickie'--HANSON") I thanked them and said goodbye (later kicking myself for not wishing them a good show, break a leg, etc., and for not asking them to sing a quick "Happy Birthday" to me since my birthday was the next day), and waited in the lobby for Micah to come get me again (I even asked if I had time to pee, and he said yep!) After talking to another one of the M&G girls again, Micah came back out and ushered me up to the front for the show, telling Marty the security guard (I had told him earlier that I even plucked my eyebrows for Hanson, to which he kept saying, "Those eyebrows look good!") that I was to be up there for the first three songs only. I was able to stand between a barrier and the stage to take pictures during the first three songs. When I saw the 900-strong crowd, I was very glad to see the barrier. I wasn't in the mood to get crushed! The security staff at the Odeon was wonderful, helping guide me where I needed to be, and getting information for me when I needed it.
At about 8:15, Hanson took the stage, after an introduction by some people (Chris and Fig, maybe?) from Q104.1. Now, on with the show!
Set List (with some comments by me):
"Strong Enough to Break"--The first three songs were a blur, I was wanting to take pictures of everything!
"If Only"--before this, I swear Isaac slipped in a bit of the Beatles' "Blackbird" while fiddling around with his guitar (verified by Patti/erin7005 from a different show!). (Added August 2004: I now believe this was Isaac fiddling around with "Call Me", an unreleased Hanson song; when I heard it at the 8/12/04 Chicago HOB concert, it sounds eerily like "Blackbird".) And I think it was this song that, while I was standing in front of Isaac waiting for the flash to recharge, I was looking right at him and he gave me a head nod (not quite "how you doin'?" but more like "hey, I know you, glad to see you").
"River"--after which they made the first "move back and give the people up front some room" comment.
"Runaway Run"--by this time, I had moved to the upper balcony so I could actually see the show, the instruments they were using, etc.! Gene had been wandering around, scoping out the best place to view and hear the concert.
"Rock and Roll Razorblade"--Zac did some serious headbanging during this song, and the song was accompanied by a good light show. (I'll also mention that someone was handing out free roses before the show, which got a new life as projectiles during the first part of the show, being hurled towards the stage. Some made it on the stage, but I'm glad none of them hit the guys.)
"The Walk" (aka the song formerly known as "Tightrope") (Zac's solo)--I didn't know the name of this song at the concert--I did find out from a fellow fan (thanks, Matt!) that it was not "Lulla Belle". I later found out on H.net that it was indeed the infamous "Tightrope." I even got a set list and all it said was "Zac solo--piano." Thanks for the help, guys. ;-) He dedicated the song his "new drum tech", but in the noisy hall, I thought he had dedicated it to his new drumsticks--Heather, one of the girls at the Meet & Greet, is a percussionist, and gave Zac a pair of her drumsticks, so therefore I thought that. Heather later corrected me--oh well. The song sounded to me like something that could have been written by Billy Joel and arranged by Vince Guaraldi. I didn't care if I never found out the name of this song, I was floored. Zac's voice has matured and blossomed, and I started tearing up because I'm just so proud of him!
"Teach Your Children"--Taylor introduced this one with, "This one goes out to all the old fogies" (which, again the room was loud, I misheard as "old folkies", which still makes sense. Nyah.); they were around the center mic, with Isaac on a twelve-string acoustic. After the song, Taylor commented that we must have good taste, and then added "But then again, you are at a Hanson concert!"
"Sure About It"--it took me this long to think, "Is Zac wearing the same shirt he wore in the Fillmore concert?" And after this song, Isaac requested the people move back again, adding "A couple inches doesn't make the show better, I promise!"
"Ain't No Sunshine"--I loved the lazy, sexy beat of this song, and Isaac sang it beautifully.
"Being Me"--Isaac's solo song, which he said it's not on any other record (will it be, though?). He did a phenomenal job on this song. At the end, when Taylor came out, he bowed to his older brother, and a male fan standing near me yelled, "Ike brings the thunder!" And oh yeah, I cried. Again. Long, personal story.
(UPDATE 5/12/04: I just realized this...I have a sneaking suspicion that the "male fan" near me was Ashley Greyson...ooh, if I was that close and didn't get to give that man a gentle but heartfelt hug...!)
"Love Me" (Taylor's solo) --Again, I didn't know the title of this song, and it wasn't on the set list other than "Taylor solo--piano". I was so transfixed by the performance. I managed to write down one line, "If you ever go". He poured his soul into that song.
"Penny and Me"--I can't hear this one enough.
"Wish That I Was There"--have I mentioned that I love Hanson's impeccable harmonies? (By this time, my friend Gene had stepped downstairs to get water, and when he came back up, he mentioned that he saw Micah, who had told us we could try to take some more pictures from the balcony with no flash. So we did!)
"Deeper"--I loves me some Ikey-poo.
"Hey"--during this song, Walker came by, reminding us that we couldn't be using cameras. I showed him my photographer pass, to which he said, "Well, now that's another story!" I introduced myself as the H.net reporter, we shook hands, and then he was on his way. He was dressed in all-black, and is a very handsome man with glasses and salt-and-pepper hair and goatee. That's what Isaac's gonna look like in thirty years…(flump).
"You Never Know"--Taylor introduced this song with, "It's time to shake those asses a little bit!" (Can you believe H.net took "asses" out of my report? If they can say it on stage, we can put it on the website. Oh well.) And speaking of shaking, Zac and Isaac were all over the place, it was wonderful! The guys really got the audience involved with some clapping and call-and-response work.
"MMMBop"--I think you all know this one... ;-) There was a woman up with us, who had her six-year-old (maybe) daughter with her, who was laying down sleeping on the bar, and was waiting to hear "MMMBop", and when they started it, we woke her up, but I don't think she stayed awake for long, though!
"Rip It Up"--I was looking forward to this song probably the most out of all the ones I hoped they'd play. It ROCKED! I wrote in my notes that it was like the Energizer bunny, because the song just kept going...Zac was doing crazy drum fills, Taylor got the crowd involved with finger snapping and syncopated clapping...if I wasn't exhausted before, I certainly was after that. I was totally surprised that Isaac stayed sitting during this song…my goodness, nobody else was! I think in this song too, Zac was doing this thing to the audience, "When I say Han, you say Son--Han" and a loud eruption of "SON!" from the audience. We did it a few times. Totally dorky, but cute.
"This Time Around"--Energizer bunny song part deux. It was wonderful...and Zac wiped his whole head with a towel during the beginning of the second verse, and his hair was mercilessly mussed for the rest of the song. As you all know, we've unofficially adopted this as our anthem, "and we won't go down", and the fans didn't let Hanson down on this one. I was trying to sing Zac's high harmonies during the audience-sing portion, but I highly doubt anyone heard it! Once the song was over, the audience shouted "HAN-SON! HAN-SON!" to get them back, and hey, it worked!
Encore: "A Song to Sing"--Wow. I am very rarely speechless. Taylor on the piano - Isaac and Zac at their stations - no instruments. That performance was a masterpiece.
The guys bowed, told us that we'd see them "soon", and they were gone. What an incredible evening! It was my first Hanson concert, and I had so much fun. My love for this band has increased tenfold--they are wonderful to see live! I want to thank Isaac, Taylor and Zac for being so welcoming to me and making me feel like I was talking to three friends during the interview. It was too short (five minutes tops)...I wanted it to last forever, not because it was "Hanson", but because I was having so much fun talking with them. Thanks to Ash and Leigh for helping guide me with preparations for the reporter position, and for having faith in me. Thanks to Marty and the rest of the Odeon security crew for getting me where I needed to be. Thanks to Gene for being my chauffeur and braving a Hanson concert with me--he's been officially converted! Much thanks to Micah for being my personal wrangler for the evening--I owe you a beer, buddy! And thanks to the other 899 Hanson fans at the concert, for helping make this an unforgettable night!
Copyright ©1999-2006 Winona Patterson.