THE HIVES
+ THE SPAZZYS
The Metro Theatre, Sydney
January 27, 2005


By EARL O'NEILL
PHOTO: FRIDA BORJESPON

"Hold your right arm up in the air like this. Now slap youself in the face like this!"

You know how it is, when you walk out of a gig and you’re still grinning and your face is kinda sore from smiling and laughing at the sheer joy of it all?

That was The Hives' Metro show. This reviewer, on the ball as usual, woke up at home at almost precisely the time I’d originally planned on arriving at the gig. Hence, I cannot say anything about the Spazzys, neither good nor bad, except that they are still lugging their own gear.

The Hives hit the stage, decked out in way-monochrome-cool, and turned it on. Obviously, they tour all the time and have been at it for a few years, but the same could be said for plenty of other bands who don’t have a shred of The Hives’ hot shit ability to, well, just kick out the fucking jams. They rocked, they rolled, they delivered one hell of a show.

The songs are perfect for a night of dancing in the Metro. They’re straightforward numbers, with a pleasing absence of pointless guitar solos (those heard were more like brain melting slabs of white noise, rather than the "look at me compensating for my tiny dick" histrionics associated with most of that tiresome breed) and it struck me that The

Hives are a Ramones for the 21st century.

They deliver a batch of straighforward, catchy rock and roll tunes, they assume names and personae, they wear a uniform. They are, in short, a gang, and the best rock and roll bands are all gangs. One for all, all for one, all that kinda shit, but you look through your record collection and tell me otherwise, hey?

"We rehearsed so much that we don’t need to rehearse anymore."

Plenty of other bands might take half a nanosecond to wonder about presentation, too. Visually, it works, what twith the uniforms, the disparate personalities and the three frontmen. Yeah, three, including the drummer. Chris Dangerous strolled back out for the last encore well ahead of the rest of the band and got them going by doing little more than standing behind his kit smoking a cigarette (Marlboro light, by the looks of it – you don’t think they’d smoke anything with that TAN colour on it, do you?) and calmly hitting a cymbal. The crowd proved to be as rhythm-free as any other bunch of Aussies who try to clap along with something.

Howlin’ Pelle is a hell of a dynamic guy. He moves and shakes, does the splits, high kicks, crowd surfs standing up. He’s obviously put a bit of study into his craft and comes over a little like Iggy Pop-meets-Mick Jagger but always himself. No-one put those words into his mouth - massive confidence is part of The Hives’ charm. Nichoulaus Arson pulls faces and gestures and spastics himself about the stage like he’s acting out his own personal psychodrama to each song. Meanwhile, Vigilante Carlstroem and Dr Matt Destruction (the sweatiest bassplayer in the West) stand side by side, doing the job.

Midway through the set "We’re going to do a song that was imported from Australia to Sweden" and the crunched into The Saints’ ‘Lost and Found’ (which is a rip off of "Hey Joe"). It was scary – the band hit it note for note and Howlin’ Pelle even mimicked Bailey’s Brisbane drawl. Not to say it wasn’t a great cover, they did it justice, but it does raise the charge that has oft been levelled at Swedish bands, that they are great jukeboxes but little more.

Hey, maybe there’s some truth in that, but what the fuck? Did you like it? Fuck yeah! Did you have fun? My fucking oath I did! Would you go again? You fucking bet I would! The Hives are one of the most utterly enjoyable live acts I’ve seen in years. They work hard at it, they put on a show, a real show, not just a stand around and swing my head kinda show, they deserve every bit of their success and I can’t afford to eat for a week after buying the ticket, but so what? I’ll eat again next week, and I’ll always be able to say "Fuck, The Hives were great!

"We’ve just played the best song of the last few years, probably the last decade. I respect you’ve paid your admission and you can do whatever the hell you want, but if I were you I’d be making a bit of noise."

 

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