wed 22/05/2024

The Hives, Brighton Dome review - Swedish power-pop dynamo are as entertaining as ever | reviews, news & interviews

The Hives, Brighton Dome review - Swedish power-pop dynamo are as entertaining as ever

The Hives, Brighton Dome review - Swedish power-pop dynamo are as entertaining as ever

Rock'n'roll tempered with a showbiz twist makes for an ebullient night out

Efficiently tearing another roof off© Roz Shearn

The joy of The Hives on record is encapsulated by their 2012 micro-song “Come On”. Despite being one-minute long and consisting solely of the title phrase, it fizzes with righteous, effervescent buzzsaw euphoria. They open their encore with it, showcasing with ease that, whatever the pleasures of their studio output, live in concert is where The Hives truly explode.

Clad in regulation black’n’white suits covered in zigzags, they first appear to Chopin’s funeral march and dive straight into “Bogus Operandi” from their most recent album, last year’s The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons, from which they draw about a third of the set. In case we might have forgotten, gigantic blocky letters shout the band’s name behind them, lit up white and occasionally red.

Frontman “Howlin’” Pelle Almqvist is keen for us not to confuse The Hives with lesser mortals. Early on, he reminds the audience that this very venue was where ABBA first moonshot Sweden to pop immortality (when they won the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest with “Waterloo”). The Hives, he says, are the conclusion of that success story. His firecracker presence is the very core of the band’s live appeal, whirling his mic round and catching it with circus-skills precision at exactly the moment a song’s final drumbeat hits.

The Hives’ other, lesser-known asset is their roadies. Black-clad as ninjas, they spend the gig feeding out Almqvist’s lengthy mic cable so he can galivant to the very peripheries of the stage and out into the audience. They do the same for his equally energetic older brother, Niklas, on lead guitar. Rock’n’roll is treating them well. They both look youthful for men in their late forties, three decades into their careers.

We are soon in Almqvist’s power. He has everyone, right to the back, clap along to newie “Two Kinds of Trouble”. He tells us halfway through that, due to “the time difference” we’ve now had our monies worth, and they will only perform further if we offer relentless, loud appreciation. One of the band’s greatest moves is the moment in twenty-year-old riff-thumper “Walk Idiot Walk” when they freeze like a stopped film, before exploding back to animated garage rock life.

They are experts in power-pop, tight as a tripwire, snarling rock guitar energy leavened with showbiz, even a touch of pantomime. They deliver a meticulously practiced night of bouncing raucous fun, a bubblegum-punk amalgam for tastes tempered by The Seeds, The Ramones and The White Stripes. By the end they have succeeded, as they always do, the whole place bouncing, bright with elation.

They close the encore with a gloriously extended version of, perhaps, their greatest song, the whopping 2007 single, “Tick Tick Boom”. Almqvist uses it as an opportunity to divide the audience in half, go walk-about into the heart of them, and introduce the whole band. As they drop instruments at its close the house system segues into Carly Simon’s Bond theme “Nobody Does It Better”. They wallow in it, taking a bow. “Nobody does it half as good as you - baby, you're the best”. Waving and jaunting about, they luxuriate in the appreciative roaring as the lights go up.

Below: Watch The Hives perform "Hate to Say I Told You So" and "Trapdoor Solution" live in Mexico City in 2023

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