October 30, 2023

The Hives played Brooklyn Steel

Swedens' hottest export, The Hives, played to an enthusiastic and sold-out Brooklyn Steel on the Eve of Halloween.

For the first time in ten years, The Hives are on tour in support of a new album, and they're playing with the intensity and showmanship like they're the biggest band on the planet, something they've been doing for decades, and they're doing it with unrivaled brilliance that would have anyone in attendance believe that's the truth. Following a grave funeral march intro which saw the stage turn to black and white, the band took to their places, locked into gear, and revved-up as their diabolical lead singer, Howlin' Pelle Almqvist, stepped into position to lead the crowd through a blockbuster-level performance of unfiltered rock and roll that hit with electric shock and all-out wonder, establishing the group as a perfect summation of what a rock band can and should be, few rock harder and none do with the charm, charisma, and persona of The Hives. Like a drill sergeant demanding a non-stop party, Pelle turned things up to eleven and hit like a shot of adrenaline, never once dipping in attitude or energy and directing the crowd through a crash course of big riffs, epic fills, and shout-a-long choruses that had the building rocking with fiery passion and undeniable swagger. "Bogus Operandi" was the stick of dynamite that ignited the crowd in its opening moments before the band blasted into "Main Offender," another killer boost of fervent joy that lifted the crowd into the stratosphere. "Walk Idiot Walk" was another sure fire smattering of killer guitar licks and the audience played right into the hand of Almqvist. Throughout the night his banter with the crowd was full of witty quips and his unabashed pride for his band, never once believing or admitting that anyone could be better or more exciting than The Hives. "You've loved this song for twenty years" Pelle shouted before the band struck into their signature "Hate to Say I Told You So," the highlight of the night that saw the biggest reaction from the crowd as the singer jumped emphatically in the air, delivering splits and high kicks like a punk rock David Lee Roth. To witness his power onstage was like witnessing other all-time greats like Jagger or Mercury, his control and command of the crowd truly a marvel it's no wonder Andre 3000 saw the group and went home to write "Hey Ya." The character he becomes onstage is one for the ages and his sarcasm and humor are just as engaging as the ripping hits the band lays down with utter perfection. "Can you tell we've been practicing?" he mocked after one number before challenging everyone to somehow get even louder. Bluesy garage rock like the Stones and the Stooges, the band's air-tight sound leaps to life in a way that isn't particularly profound in 2023, but isn't frozen in time either and it's hard to think that anyone watching it could possibly be having anything other than a great time. The band is pure rock and roll and the most solid reminder that music can and should be fun and this is how to do it at a level above the rest. In the way The Ramones used the same chords to write their plethora of hits, The Hives have found their formula of blown-out garage rock mixed for arena-level crowds and reactions, both of which they find no matter the actual size of their venue. Continuously shouting instructions to "look alive" or pumping the crowd up by sprinting across the stage to amp up the crowd, there was never any downtime from the moment the group and it was an all out marathon of a performance. "Two-Timing Touch and Broken Bones" pushed things to the extreme, the band firing on all cylinders with rapid-fire execution to demonstrate their total domination. In the decades since garage rock was the style and The Hives were on top of the musical world as one of the best live bands in the scene, they're here to still remind everyone that not only do they still have what it takes, but they're still at the top of their game and one of the best to ever do it. As the band took their bows, the house music played "Nobody Does It Better," one last wink to their own self regard, but after witnessing such a performance, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone in attendance who would disagree.

Set list:

01 "Bogus Operandi"
02 "Main Offender"
03 "Walk Idiot Walk"
04 "Rigor Mortis Radio"
05 "Good Samaritan"
06 "Go Right Ahead"
07 "Stick Up"
08 "Hate to Say I Told You So"
09 "Trapdoor Solution"
10 "I'm Alive"
11 "Smoke & Mirrors"
12 "Two-Timing Touch and Broken Bones"
13 "Countdown to Shutdown"
14 "Come On!"
15 "Tick Tick Boom"

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