First published in The Age on August 3, 1997
Hanson-mania grips Southland
Fans are whipped into a frenzy at the Southland Hanson concert.Credit:Joe Castro
Wall-to-wall screaming teenagers, mostly girls, jammed the Southland Shopping Centre car park at Cheltenham yesterday.
Anyone who walked away from the American group Hanson mini-concert without ringing in their ears was not really there.
A distressed fan is attended by a member of St. John’s AmbulanceCredit:Joe Castro
More than 20,000 hysterical fans were in pop heaven when Hanson brothers Isaac, 16, Taylor, 14, and Zachary, 11, performed a short but spirited set.
They are on a whirlwind promotional tour of Australia.
When the group took the stage just after 11.30am, the crowd surged forward, jamming young girls against a barrier.
While security guards were lifting about 50 distressed fans to safety, some being taken away on stretchers, the Hansons pleaded for calm.
“Everybody step hack… we don’t want anybody to die here,” said Taylor Hanson.
From then, the only discomfort was caused by the pitch of the screams once the blond trio, dressed in simple pants and skivvies with their hair in ponytails, had launched into their first song, ‘Madeleine’.
The group, with Isaac on acoustic guitar, Taylor on tambourine and Zachary shaking a maraca, performed three more songs — ‘The Man from Milwaukee’, ‘A Minute Without You’ and ‘MMMBop’, its smash hit.
Tears flowed as each girl mouthed the words and hopped to the beat.
Their devotion was rewarded by an encore of a perfectly harmonised, a cappella rendition of ‘MMMBop’ — and then the idols were gone.
It was all too much for distraught Greenvale youngster Erin Nelson, 14.
“I want Zac to come back – why can’t they ask them to come back?” she pleaded.
The St John Ambulance treated 48 People for minor complaints. “I think for most of them it was just hysteria,” a spokeswoman said.
“It was a very young age group and they got a little bit overcome with hyperventilation or just being tired and emotional.
“Most of them we just sat them down and, once they stopped crying, everything was OK.”
Two people were taken to hospital, one with a back injury, the other with possible concussion.
About 30 people had slept the night in the car park to ensure a front spot.
Mrs Lee Stevens, daughter Tiffany, 11, and friends Brad Osborne, 13, and sister Rebecca. 11, from Laverton, slept in sleeping bags and on blankets near the stage.
Mrs Stevens said: “My daughter said, ‘I’ve got to go, I’ve got to go up the front, I’ve got to see them’.
“And I said yes, without hesitation. This is like the Beatles and Elvis, or Skyhooks, when I was young. If a mother can’t fulfil her child’s dream, who can?”
The crowd started building at 5am. By 11am, with Hanson due, it stretched the length of the undercover car park on the western side of the shopping centre.
The event was to have been in the shopping centre but safety concerns prompted Southland management to stage it in the car park.
The Hanson group screamed on to the rock music charts in May with ‘MMMBop’. Although its words have no apparent meaning, the catchy tune has hooked fans worldwide.
According to the Australian Record Industry Association ‘MMMBop’ was nine weeks at the top of the singles chart before falling to second last week.
‘MMMBop’ is said to have sold more than 140,000 copies in Australia since its release on 19 May.
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