July 16, 2002
Hives/Idlewild at the Lost Weekend : London Brixton Academy
Two great bands on one bill...
"We’ve been to the Youessovvaay to play some shows" shrieks head Hives Pelle Almqvist with rare modesty at the top of his band’s set at this NME-sponsored show. "What," he asks, thrusting his mic like a rapier at the crowd, "have you[/i] been doing?"
Massive here, now big over there on the back of sold-out gigs and rave reviews, there was never any doubt that America would fall for these hot-blooded Swedes who, if they’re not the sharpest rock’n’roll band in the world today, do an impeccable impersonation of how one should behave. How could anyone resist a group resembling a mafioso Monkees fronted by a Quentin Blake caricature of Mick Jagger in his pouting, pigeon-chested prime?
If Hives are the righteous, cartoony saviours of rock (and they are,
judging by the numbers arriving tonight clad in regulation black and white),
then with their latest album, Idlewild
are rapidly scaling the same peak
from a different, more worthy angle. Adored, worryingly enough, by Radio 2
andBryan Adams, the Scots troupers have dispensed with the harsh toilet-trainer Sonic Youth tactics of old and hit upon a rich, melodic seam that owes as much to ‘Green’-era REM as it does vintageIdlewild.
But any suspicions that Idlewild
might be enjoying their new-found glory are
roundly crushed by an earnest, charisma-free performance; it’s odd that such
a literate and articulate group still refuse to engage their audience between songs. What is clear, however, is that ‘When I Argue I See Shapes’, formerlyIdlewild
’s finest moment, pales when they close with mercurial new single ‘American English’, an anthem that could well prove their Stateside
By contrast, Hives amp up the brightness and volume to such an absurd
level that we’d need industrial eyewear to be shielded from their cocksure
brilliance. In ‘Main Offender’ and ‘Hate To Say I Told You So’ they have
Ramones-dumb classics in the use-once-and-destroy mould, while Pelle - the beautiful bastard lovechild of Little Richard and Freddie Mercury - is
a freakish modern icon who moves like Nureyev but hollers, fittingly, like Iggy. "There ain’t nothing more of a crowd-pleaser than [a][/a]!" he crows before ‘aka IDIOT’, running a hand through that glossy helmet of hair.
Madison Square Garden won’t know what's hit it.
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