It has been four very, very long years since the Hives last made an appearance in Toronto. When they came in 2008, it was nothing short of an absolute party. The first time Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist engaged in his notoriously witty banter, he stated that he intended to replicate the energy and drive that was there the last time, and do one better. And did they ever deliver.
The presence these guys muster is unlike anything you are used to. From the moment they all waltz on in their matching tuxedos and top hats (that aren’t on for long, once these guys get going) it’s nothing but hard, fast, no nonsense rock and roll. They know that everyone has heard they are one of the most energetic and entertaining live performances, and they don’t disappoint. They also abuse that notoriety in the best possible way. The Hives can make the audience do anything they want.
Some concert goers complain about bands talking too much between songs, but Howlin’ Pelle makes it a hilariously entertaining break. He is truly the definition of a frontman as he entertains like no other during the songs. He demands applause from his audience in between, a task that is easy to oblige. What’s amazing is how far the audience is willing to co-operate. During the break down of “Tick Tick Boom,” Pelle requested the audience split down the middle, and as he walked down to the center of the crowd, he made everyone sit down on the ground before taking off back onto the stage, erupting in the wildest finish of the night.
Believe it or not, it’s not all about Pelle (though I am amazed by his talent of doing flawless microphone and mic stand tricks). The rest of the Hives create an overall blast of raw, tight music. Guitarist Nicholaus Arson is the definition of a rock star as he runs from one side of the stage to the other and crowd surfs over hungry fans. Guitarist Vigilante Carlstroem and bassist Dr. Matt Destruction stoically keep the rhythm going, over Chris Dangerous’s amazingly fast-paced drumming. It’s genuinely hard to believe how the band keeps the high energy consistent over the 80 minute set. It’s safe to say that they blow most of their recordings out of the water, sadly making most of them hard to listen to after hearing them just kill it on stage.
Admittedly, the songs off their new album are not as strong as their earlier releases, and didn’t have as much pull or crowd response as older songs like “Die Alright.” But you can’t fault them for that on a new album tour. The songs are still dynamite live. To quote Almqvist’s parting words: “We are the Hives, and I don’t think you’ll forget us.”
I don’t think so either.