Roundhouse, London, December 14
Tonight’s set draws heavily from The Hives’ 2012-released fifth album, ‘Lex Hives’, bookending all of the hits with some of their newer stuff. It’s a testament to the band’s unyielding, relentless energy that at no point during these lesser-known tracks does the mood drop. The White Stripes simplicity of ‘Take Back The Toys’ makes for one of the finer new cuts as it grinds through on a descending bassline, its melodic repetition allowing the whole track to be about how Almqvist delivers it. He jumps on the bass drum and scissor-kicks off; then, framed by the terrifying puppet-master that anoints the band’s backdrop, he fishes out a Union Jack flag from the crowd and ends the song with a timed-to-perfection bow. Somehow it seems completely, theatrically rehearsed and flamboyantly anarchic at the same time.
The demonic opening growls of ‘My Time Is Coming’ too, during which the giant ‘HIVES’ letters decorating the stage are bathed in red light, are a lesson in amazingly off-kilter showmanship. But of course it’s the big hitters (of which there are, naturally, loads) that bring the message home. The chorus of ‘Main Offender’ is conducted like a hedonistic sermon, ‘Hate To Say I Told You So’ is preceded with a speech about sticking two fingers up to the Mayan-predicted end of the world on December 21 and closer ‘Tick Tick Boom’ is dedicated “to the crowd, and to The Hives”. Amazing.
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