The Hives @ The Halls, Wolverhampton – 30 March 2024

One third of the way through twelve UK shows, madcap Swedish garage rockers, The Hives, stop off in Wolverhampton, in support of last years release, ‘The Death Of Randy Fitzsimmons’.

The story of The Hives’ first album in over a decade is a macabre one, and contrary to everything we know about the band, they mournfully mosey on stage to Chopin’s ‘Funeral March‘. For a few moments, even those snazzy, trademark black and white suits appear misplaced. But it’s no surprise when these experts in colourful, power-punk energy, burst into their frenzied show.

Opening with ‘Bogus Operandi, ‘Main Offender’ and ‘Take Back The Toys’, a heaving crowd eat from Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist’s hand, and are devoted to his every whim. As the ninja crew take care of his flailing mic lead, he demands we clap along and scream louder on command, while marching back and forth, jumping into the front rows, and standing tall on an upended monitor. “We should play Wolverhampton every day, and you should be the crowd!” cries the frontman.

The fictitious Randy Fitzsimmons is credited as The Hives’ sole songwriter, but thankfully his passing has lead to no new direction for the band. Pelle’s inclusive exclamations of: “Ladies! Gentlemen! And everybody else!” bring us new cuts ‘Two Kinds Of Trouble’, ‘Rigor Mortis Radio’, and ‘Stick Up’. Melding seamlessly with ‘Walk Idiot Walk’, ‘Go Right Ahead’ and ‘Hate To Say I Told You So’, it’s a set of hard, sharp and fiery absurdity, from a now 26 year discography.

Pelle is pure entertainment, knowing exactly what to say at the right time. “You’re awfully quiet for 3,400 people!” he states to an already rowdy Wolves audience, before threatening to take the next tour back to Birmingham. “Be loud, for a long time!” is a simple instruction used to detonate a roaring, unwavering response, and “This song made us mega stars in the UK!” – a typically modest declaration to launch the band into an incendiary version of ‘Die, All Right!”

Finishing up with ‘Try It Again’ and ‘Countdown to Shutdown’, perhaps there is a sense of exhaustion through repetition, but nobody here cares. The encore culminates with the inevitable explosion of ‘Tick Tick Boom’, as Almqvist’s bombastic delivery, along with the pantomimic antics of his brother and lead guitarist Niklas, and the entirely captivating, fun-filled five-piece clearly prove themselves as one of the best live bands on the planet.

Review & Photography: Steve Johnston

The Hives