The Ambassador, Dublin, 27 September 2004
The Hives are a tight, ruthlessly workmanlike unit with more than enough musical muscle to fend off any accusations of mere gimmickry. Like the Ramones, the Hives' impact is akin to watching commandos leaping out of a helicopter and leaving you a gibbering wreck with bleeding ears before you've even noticed the gig's ended. Yup, a thousand years later the Vikings' offspring have returned to Dublin - not because they heard about the Harp - but to give us a serious musical pummelling.
The CLUAS Verdict? 9 out of 10
Full review: OK, first thing's first. We've all heard the put-downs concerning this Swedish combo by now. Those negative souls that wish to knock the Hives will usually tell you they only have one song and that they're as contrived asThe Monkees. Ignore these people. They are stupid. Run away if necessary. They only want to spoil your fun and offer nothing other than a serious poverty of imagination. Like The Thrills, they probably even give flying one about whatever happened to Corey Haim. Even if their lazy accusations had any substance, would it really matter anyway? After all, The Monkees knocked out a few classics in their time - and as for accusations of doing the same song to death over and over again - did jibes like that ever stop the Ramones? Besides, it's a bloody good song anyway so who's quibbling?
As soon the Hives crash into their first number it's very evident that they function as a tight, ruthlessly workmanlike unit with more than enough musical muscle to fend off any accusations of mere gimmickry. Like the Ramones, the Hives' impact is akin to watching commandos leaping out of a helicopter and leaving you a gibbering wreck with bleeding ears before you've even noticed the gig's ended. Yup, some thousand years later the Vikings' offspring have returned to Dublin - not because they heard about the Harp - but to give us a serious musical pummelling. Now THAT'S retro. Vocalist Howlin' Pelle Almqvist (who has a neat line in between-song patter and PA climbing) comes over like the brattish offspring of Mick Jagger and David Johansen. Guitarist Nicholaus Arson rips out powerchords with demonic relish, prowling the stage like a crack-addled Tasmanian Devil. Sure, it may be all rehearsed to a tee, but somehow the unholy glint in Mr. Arson's eyes makes you doubt it.
Like many great acts, a mad humour permeates everything the Hives do. Midway through 'Diabolic Scheme' they stop for nearly a minute, staying perfectly still, much to the amusement of the crowd. That's OK though, because we're laughing WITH them, not AT them. Later, Dr. Matt Destruction pulls off a tooth-rattling bass solo while Almqvist yelps "in his hands is the weapon of mass destruction you have been looking for!" As for drummer Chris Dangerous (his metronomic Charlie Watts-on-sulphate drumbeat aside), with each passing second he's looking more like the legendary teddy-boy bully (whose name escapes me) from 'Grange Hill.' Maybe it was the quiff and the belligerent expression. Either way, I take no chances and hide my lunch-money. Guitarist Vigilante Carlstroem and Dr. Matt Destruction remain (relatively) static, but look eminently capable of roughing you up for fun in a parking lot afterwards. In fact, they resemble bouncers even more than the black-bomber-jacketed barmy-army on the doors do.
The songs come hard and fast, with numbers like 'Walk Idiot Walk,' 'Main Offender,' and 'Hate to say I told you so' delivered to an appreciative mob with as much subtlety as a brick in the face. Brilliant. Subtlety has no place here tonight. Almqvist ends the encore with a (possibly ill-advised) dive into the front row, where he is rapidly relieved of his shirt. Last I saw him, he had clambered back onstage, raised his arms in victorious prize-fighter style and began kissing his own flexed biceps, all the while grinning like a Cheshire cat. So, are these guys as good as they think they are? Too bloody right.