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Live Review: The Hives

30 January 2014 | 10:40 am | Bryget Chrisfield

We applaud madly as our heroes (plus one substitute) take their final bows and once again vow to never miss an opportunity to catch this ridiculously entertaining band live.

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Seeing ninjas setting the stage up for The Hives adds some humour to proceedings before this Swedish quintet have exited the band room. Only this self-confessed “best live band on the planet” would dare use an intro tape that sounds like the most discordant municipal brass band in the world. Drummer Chris Dangerous is first on stage and that athlete's frame ensures those skins are pummelled into submission. His Come On drumming intro sets the rockin' tone and the minute we clap eyes on our master of ceremonies Howlin' Pelle Almqvist (also starring as Master Of Puppets on the band's backdrop, with actual strings stretching from his fingers on the banner out onto various points on the stage) our focus is unwavering. They're wearing their black and white (of course) mariachi suits!

Partway through Main Offender, we notice there's an imposter Hive. “Where's the Dr?” a punter shouts out. Later on in the show, Almqvist informs us that unfortunately their original bassist Dr Matt Destruction is sick and stayed in Sweden, so 'Dr Johann Destructaphone' acts as an able substitute and the descending, vibrating, brown note-teasing bass line in Take Back The Toys is a force for destruction, alright. Even if you've seen The Hives a gazillion times, Almqvist continually dishes out the zingers: “Are you nervous?” he bafflingly enquires. “Because when was the last time you had a band of this calibre here?” It's all very Swenglish and irresistible. The frontman also cheekily thanks Blur for pulling out of the Big Day Out tour and therefore allowing his band to be with us this evening. He goes so far as to encourage us to send flowers and notes of thanks to Blur. Hilariously, Almqvist confiscates phones out of fans' hands while they're filming. “Experience it now instead of a month's time,” he chastises. The phones will be handed back by ninjas after the show, Almqvist promises. A couple of glam ladies hold their phones out on purpose to get Almqvist's attention, probably thinking that the spunky singer will punch his digits in or something. 

Major sightline fail: we can't see enough of Chris Dangerous! Especially once his jacket has been discarded. Idiot Walk slays and we could never get enough of Almqvist's crazy struts. An über fan pushes forward in the crowd and constantly points and calls out to Vigilante Carlstroem. Almqvist's onstage persona doesn't like attention being diverted away from him and hands ol' mate (“Ian from Brisbane”) the mic to introduce the band's electric guitarist. “As introduced by the man in the blue shirt,” Almqvist adds. Wait A Minute features a ninja on cowbell. “It doesn't seem like Tuesday night,” Almqvist praises. “It's like New Year's on Mars!”

The band's freeze during Tick Tick Boom still occurs, but there's also a show-stopping new inclusion: after we are all told to sit down (and the ninjas appear onstage with arms crossed, ready to deal with those who don't obey), Almqvist instructs us to raise our hands and embarks on a crowd-surf, with the crowd remaining seated, all the way to the venue's halfway mark where the steps start, and then back again. During Almqvist's trademark OTT band member introductions, Dangerous' drum solo is next level. We applaud madly as our heroes (plus one substitute) take their final bows and once again vow to never miss an opportunity to catch this ridiculously entertaining band live. Bring on their Big Day Out set!

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