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- Apollo, Manchester »
- The Hives »
No matter how big The Hives have become and how many Tesco clubcard points you can earn by picking up their new album with a packet of bran flakes, there’s something eternally compelling about their energy and commitment on stage.
From the second Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist and co burst on to the stage in their black and white boarding school uniforms, you realise that the likes of Borrell, Okereke and even Doherty are too concerned with looking intense and aloof to give this amount of energy. Granted it’s all theatrics, rehearsed pauses and overblown pantomime bluster, but it’s still a genuine outburst of dedication.
The songs from The Black and White Album such as ‘Bigger Hole To Fill’, ‘You Dress Up For Armageddon’ and ‘Won’t Be Long’ show off Almqvist’s new, lower singing register and he is able to do the same in a live context without resorting to some of the squealing that he relied on in the past.
Admittedly, most of the visual action is provided by Almqvist’s camp Jagger shtick and Nicholaus Arson’s desire to fight for the spotlight with propulsive guitar moves. Almqvist is often more hilarious for the way he says things rather than his actual lines and his demand that we all jump along like “Mancunian bunny rabbits” is one of the strangest requests to have been echoed throughout the arena-sized walls of the Apollo.
Aside from some breathing space during ‘Diabolic Scheme’, the songs pulse along with the kind of cranked-up 4/4 straight beat that is perfect for pogoing along to. With the twin guitars and backing vocals of Arson and Vigilante Carlstroem, there’s no room in the mix for any of the electro quirks given to them by the likes of Pharrell Williams and Jacknife Lee. They hit their hysterical stride with older tunes such as ‘Die! All Right’ and ‘Hate To Say I told You So’, but newbie ‘Return the Favour’ also has enough old-skool punk sing-along moments to get their more mature demographic moving. A seamless set which combines old and new, The Hives’ lyrics and ethos may not change the way you look at life but as entertainers, they’re pretty unbeatable.
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