...the best live band in the world today...
Yowza! It’s total Swedish cultural hegemony! IKEA furniture fills our homes,
the antics of Sven and Ulrika preoccupy our tabloids and tonight
those impeccably bespoke bounders of brilliance, those snakes of suave, them damn cads of cool The Hives are our new favourite band. No really, they are: they’ve sold a quarter of a million records in four months, introduced garage-rock to the charts for the first time since 1965 and brought ties back into indie disco fashion.
On paper, its near nonsensical to even consider that five 20-something gonzo-garage-punk Swedes with (snigger) side partings might have so unanimously won our nation’s notoriously fickle affections. But on stage, with their name literally up in lights, The Hives make sweet sense.
‘Howlin’ Hive’, Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist charms, preaches, preens and blows us kisses. ‘Head Hive’, Nicholaus Arson throws rock shapes like he’s auditioning for Sum 41. At the sides, ‘Heavy Hive’ – fat lipped Vigilante Carlstroem – and
‘Hard-man Hive’ Chris Dangerous try not to be overshadowed by everyone’s
favourite ‘Soft-porn muzzy Hive’, Dr Matt Destruction.
Collectively, they deliver guerrilla garage pop closer to the spirit of The
Von Bondies, Detroit Cobras, Dirtbombs and other Detroit alumni than
to any of their European contemporaries. Songs like the sneering ‘Die, All
Right!’, the skanky ‘a.k.a. I-D-I-O-T’ and a scuzzy ‘Supply and Demand’ seem
unpalatably rough around the edges at first, but on closer inspection lurch
around with a sheen and precision in keeping with the rest of this stellar, stylised performance.
“OK my loved ones – do you want to hear something special?” Almqvist shouts in his wonky English accent, before a hide-tanning airing of ‘Hate To Say I Told You So’. “Please put your hands in the air and report to Hives reception”, he announces, introducing ace next single ‘Main Offender’. A tune already renowned for, literally, saving Kylie‘s then underexposed ass, sees them pause in silence mid-song for what feels like 15 minutes (but is probably closer to 15 seconds) in an act of pure unadulterated rock opera.
While not quite pastiche, much of tonight is super-sculpted – Pelle’s
cabaret interaction with the crowd, the collective look, the on-stage
posing. The only time any of them openly break from ‘character’ is when
Arson introduces a song in an atrocious Scouse accent. Sure, it’s affected, but none of it feels detached. So give it up for The Hives – the best live band in the world today. Yes it’s true – not everything in black and white makes sense.