The Swedish five-piece, resplendent in matching black shirts with white ties, command the Astoria stage. They create an odd visual experience. Two of the band are fat, one is really short and sports a large moustache. The lead singer, Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist, stalks the stage like a cross between Jim Carrey and Mick Jagger, with a smattering of Cliff Richard.
“We came over to England, flew here in a plane, came here with some music, riding around in my brain… so turn up that dial, increase the volume, and listen – your new favourite band,” we are told.
This is hi-NRG rock’n'roll with leaps, kicks and screams. The Hives simultaneously manage brutality and sophistication. They are a band with real conviction. “Damn, we are good,” they tell us. “Are you ready for us to raise the volume?” The crowd issue a unanimous yes. The band respond with an ode to how they feel that their greatest skill is to annoy – Main Offender. This is followed by Supply and Demand, then Introduce The Metric System in Time.
It is a short set, less than an hour, but we are told what we are getting, as Pelle provides a running commentary. “You have 40 seconds left of The Hives.” When that time is up they leave the stage momentarily before returning with the announcement that “We are now in encore territory.” Chris Dangerous kicks his drums over, Dr Matt Destruction’s bass strings are ripped out and the audience are spat at. The Hives have left the building and this building loves The Hives.