The houselights at Neumos dimmed while a set of ninja-like stage crew members dressed in all black finished a few last-minute cable adjustments and slid back into the darkness. Notes of Frederick Chopin’s somber Sonata No. 2 - Funeral March moved through the air and brought forth four ghostly silhouettes: The Hives’ Nicholaus Arson, Vigilante Carlstroem, The Johan and Only, and Chris Dangerous. They crossed the small stage, took their places, and thrummed out the heavy-hitting power chord intro to “Bogus Operandi,” the premiere single off The Hives’ first full release in over 11 years, 2023’s The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons. A moment later, lightning-like streams of light revealed a chiaroscuro shadow of ultra-charismatic frontman Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist. He strutted and high-kicked it toward the crowd, reached his mark, and as the band shouted out the song’s catchy verse “Like I say, like I say, like I say…,” a spark was ignited. The Hives, one of the best bands and live acts in the world, was jolted back to life in a Frankenstein Shelley-esque way.
Fully electrified, the quintet moved onward into a set filled with fun-loving rock, pomp, and circumstance. During “Main Offender” (2001’s Veni Vidi Vicious and 2002’s Your New Favourite Band) and “Walk Idiot Walk” (2004 Tyrannosaurs Hives), the jampacked throng of mostly hardcore Hives fans pushed forward, making the already impenetrable front of the house even tighter. Despite the close quarters, they raised their hands in sheer delight, clapping along with Howlin’ Pelle’s lead for “Rigor Mortis Radio” (The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons). Guitarist Arson took advantage of the scene and propped himself against the unbarricaded crowd’s arms while sporting his signature hypnotic stare. The fans, in the know of what to do next, lifted him into crowd-surfing mayhem. After Arson’s safe return, the loquacious, lovable rogue Almqvist stood on a floor monitor, projected his microphone toward the audience, and asked if the “Ladies” and the “Gentleman” were enjoying their time with the “best band in the world.” Their response: an emphatic “Yeah!!!” Satisfied, the emissaries of enjoyment railed into the 7” single “Good Samaritan,” complete with all band members partaking in a frozen tableau for a dramatic pause prior to its end.
The Hives continued their crazy kinetics and strummed out fan favorites “Go Right Ahead” (2012’s Lex Hives) and “Hate to Say I Told You So,” (Veni Vidi Vicious) accompanied by another onslaught of crowd-surfers. Continuing the momentum, the band barreled into their 2019 limited edition 7” single “I’m Alive,” enhanced by a full scale shadow-play-like performance made possible by blasts of strobe lights highlighting The Hives as they crisscrossed the stage. The frenetic “The Bomb,” and prophetic “Countdown to Shutdown” (both off The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons) somewhat wound down the affable quintet’s super live set, albeit with a wink and nod from Pelle signaling they would be back soon, in “a minute or two.”
As promised, The Hives returned to the completely packed house for a well-deserved encore and belted out the short but sweetly satiating “Come on!” (Lex Hives). Being ultimate music pros, they chose their powerful hit “Tick, Tick, Boom!” from 2007’s The Black and White Album to end the show. The “best band in the world” took a bow and left the stage with just as much energy as they started. There is no doubt, The Hives have returned, and they’re alive! Look for The Hives touring with the Foo Fighters in 2024 and go if you need an excuse to feel good and smile.
Intro - Chopin’s Sonata No. 2
Walk Idiot Walk
Rigor Mortis Radio
Go Right Ahead
Hate to Say I Told You So
Smoke & Mirrors
Countdown to Shutdown
Tick Tick Boom!