Live Music + Gig Reviews

The Hives @ Reading Festival, Reading

24 August 2002

The Hives

The Hives

What do you get if you cross a monkey with John Inman? If it’s got the vaguest hint of a Swedish accent, it must be Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist, gangly-legged front man of The Hives. Here, in a festival full of Americanised rock, are a band who’ve decided that ’50s rock’n’roll was best – if delivered with gusto and aplomb. According to Pelle, The Hives have all that.

Treating the odd comment about Sweden’s World Cup defeat to Senegal with the disdain it deserves, he busies himself by announcing that The Hives look great. What’s more, he’s right. Resplendent in their trademark black and white costumes, the band are rather static, all except Pelle. An urge takes him stage right, and he seems to be interested in the speakers.

But no – it’s the scaffolding around the speakers that as caught prancing Pelle’s attention. Up he shimmies, disappearing momentarily behind the huge covers before prissily tapping across the stage again, spinning his mic and effortlessly catching it all up again by its lead, never missing a note of any one of his band’s songs.

The audience, understandably, are mesmerised. With songs that come over as short, sharp shocks interspersing what is otherwise a one-man cabaret act, there’s rarely much time to focus on the finely-honed genius behind the music. But Main Offender and Hate To Say I Told You So get the mid-afternoon crowd moshing like they’re seeing the headline act. Pelle’s interaction with the crowd doesn’t let them lose their focus on him for a second, and just when we’re beginning to think of this as one of the best sets of the weekend, it’s over.

And every time they appear live, The Hives win over more hearts and minds. Success for these guys might have been a long time coming, but they’re well set to enjoy every minute of it now it’s arrived. They really could be Your New Favourite Band. Today, they laid quite a claim to be mine.

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The Hives’ Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist: “Something takes over when I’m on stage. It’s the closest I get to a religious experience” – Interview
The Hives + Dan Sartain @ Hammersmith Apollo, London
The Hives – The Black And White Album