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THE HIVES Still Buzz with Electric Energy – Live at the Brighton Dome

As this gig approached, I was well aware that it was quite a few years since I’d seen The Hives, but upon checking, I discovered that it was, in fact, a whopping twenty-two years…

The Hives - Brighton Dome 3rd April 2024 - Credit: Cris Watkins
The Hives - Brighton Dome 3rd April 2024 - Credit: Cris Watkins

THE HIVES + BAD NERVES @ THE BRIGHTON DOME 3RD APRIL 2024

As this gig approached, I was well aware that it was quite a few years since I’d seen The Hives, but upon checking, I discovered that it was, in fact, a whopping twenty-two years since I’d seen them! I was shocked! How would they have aged? Would they be tottering about on Zimmer frames??? Only time would tell.

The Hives - Brighton Dome 3rd April 2024 - Credit: Cris Watkins
The Hives – Brighton Dome 3rd April 2024 – Credit: Cris Watkins

Before then (and indeed preceding both bands), there was an excellent rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack playing over the PA, which got the audience nicely warmed up. Bad Nerves are currently becoming quite ubiquitous as a support band, but I’m certainly not complaining. Their set is becoming quite familiar, but I’m not complaining about that either—certainly not when their set is crammed with such top-notch material. 

Bad Nerves - Brighton Dome 3rd April 2024 - Credit: Cris Watkins
Bad Nerves – Brighton Dome 3rd April 2024 – Credit: Cris Watkins

They are an impressively mobile live band with lots of scissor kicks and star jumps. Singer Bobby Nerves (I bet that’s not the name on his birth certificate) swings his mic like a young Roger Daltrey, and the band covers every inch of the stage between them. Bobby tells us: “They don’t make line-ups like this anymore”. No, they don’t, and there’s a reason for that. Any band would think twice before having Bad Nerves open for them. I’m sure that there are at least one or two acts that they’ve blown offstage. 

Bad Nerves - Brighton Dome 3rd April 2024 - Credit: Cris Watkins
Bad Nerves – Brighton Dome 3rd April 2024 – Credit: Cris Watkins

They play one song tonight that I’ve not heard before: “You’ve Got The Nerve”. They announce it as a fast track, and it rocks like a very fast thing indeed. There are quite a few empty seats on the balcony during Bad Nerves’ set. As this is a sold-out show, why in God’s name would anyone want to miss them? They’re one of the best live newer bands around at the moment. If you missed them, ensure you’re on time next time they play!

Bad Nerves - Brighton Dome 3rd April 2024 - Credit: Cris Watkins
Bad Nerves – Brighton Dome 3rd April 2024 – Credit: Cris Watkins

After some more classic rock ‘n’ roll over the PA, it’s time for The Hives. Will they come hobbling out on walking sticks? The house and stage lights go out completely, and the Funeral March plays over the PA. Is this a bad sign? No. The tour is entitled The Death Of Randy Fitzsimmons, as indeed is the new album. Randy Fitzsimmons was the band’s fictional mentor, who has seemingly met his fictional death.

The Hives - Brighton Dome 3rd April 2024 - Credit: Cris Watkins
The Hives – Brighton Dome 3rd April 2024 – Credit: Cris Watkins

The stage lights come up a fraction to show the two roadies/techs standing on either side of the stage, each holding a guitar with his head respectfully bowed. They are both masked and hooded. The band come on and tear into a riff. They are joined by vocalist Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist, and the riff becomes “Bogus Operandi”, which is the opening track from the new album. In the pre-tour publicity, Pelle said they would be playing a lot from the new album, but there aren’t many artists with the balls to start their set with a new song. Way to go!! Whatever, the audience know it and are singing along to it with no need of encouragement.

The Hives - Brighton Dome 3rd April 2024 - Credit: Cris Watkins
The Hives – Brighton Dome 3rd April 2024 – Credit: Cris Watkins

From the very off, Pelle is in the photo pit. This band know how to work a crowd. During “Take Back The Toys”, the band hold back the beat in order to time it, with Pelle catching his mic as he throws it in the air like Roger Daltrey. Roger has much to answer for, having clearly influenced both of tonight’s bands. 

Pelle tells us that tonight is the fiftieth anniversary of Abba winning the Eurovision Song Contest at this very venue. Actually, he’s a few days out because it was on 6th April 1974, but we’ll let him off. He tells us that was the beginning of Sweden dominating music worldwide and that The Hives continue that proud tradition. Well, who are we to argue??? Especially when they continue with “Rigor Mortis Radio” from the new album, which amply describes many of the stations that I have had the misfortune to accidentally tune into whilst in the car. No names mentioned, yet (cash to the usual Swiss bank account).  

The Hives - Brighton Dome 3rd April 2024 - Credit: Cris Watkins
The Hives – Brighton Dome 3rd April 2024 – Credit: Cris Watkins

Pelle is now in the side stalls communing with the audience. Apparently, this show has been “sold out since the dawn of man”. If Pelle says so, then it must be true. He also tells us that when Brighton Dome was built, its designers had no idea what it was for, but its ultimate purpose was to host a Hives concert. Now he mentions it, it seems so obvious!

The Hives - Brighton Dome 3rd April 2024 - Credit: Cris Watkins
The Hives – Brighton Dome 3rd April 2024 – Credit: Cris Watkins

For “Walk Idiot Walk” one of the roadies is on percussion. Indeed, he reappears on percussion a few times during the show. Drummer Chris Dangerous throws a stick up into the air and catches it, to huge applause. As an audience we’re easily amused…. One gentleman, who I presume is a fellow journalist, as he’s taking notes, simply can’t contain himself and is frequently out of his seat to dance, and I don’t blame him. At this stage in the show he’s the only person in the balcony to do so. Good man!!! 

The Hives - Brighton Dome 3rd April 2024 - Credit: Cris Watkins
The Hives – Brighton Dome 3rd April 2024 – Credit: Cris Watkins

“Stick Up” from the new album stops and re-starts because Pelle “completely fucked up the lyrics”. This song features an explosive guitar solo from Nicholaus Arson. I’m Alive is apparently their “slowest song to date”. It’s very powerful though and rocks like hell. Pelle’s stage patter is very witty throughout the show. He tells us that they “have now played for two-and-a-half hours if you take into account the time difference”. It’s only now that I notice how small Chris Dangerous’ drum kit is. It’s positively Ringo-sized! He makes it sound damn powerful, though. 

The Hives - Brighton Dome 3rd April 2024 - Credit: Cris Watkins
The Hives – Brighton Dome 3rd April 2024 – Credit: Cris Watkins

Final song “Countdown To Shutdown”, features an awesome bass riff from The Johan And Only. Again, this may not be the name on his birth certificate. This goes for the rest of the band too, despite Swedish parents being renowned for their sense of humour where their children’s names are concerned.  

The Hives - Brighton Dome 3rd April 2024 - Credit: Cris Watkins
The Hives – Brighton Dome 3rd April 2024 – Credit: Cris Watkins

I wonder if this will indeed be the end of the show. The main set lasted an hour and a quarter (not taking into account the time difference, Pelle). However, this band are troupers, and they come back on, with Pelle taking his place onstage last as he did at the beginning of the show. During “Smoke And Mirrors”, Pelle crowd surfs. At one point, it looks as if his jacket is going to be ripped off! He manages to retain it, though. During “Tick Tick Boom” Pelle introduces the band, including himself. He then asks everybody in the balcony to stand up, which we do. He then asks the people in the stalls to part (all very Biblical), which they do, leaving a path down the middle of the hall, down which Pelle walks. Next, he asks the people in the stalls to sit down and then asks them to jump up as he runs back towards the stage. He just about makes it without being utterly swamped by humanity. 

The Hives - Brighton Dome 3rd April 2024 - Credit: Cris Watkins
The Hives – Brighton Dome 3rd April 2024 – Credit: Cris Watkins

Thus, the gig ends. I must confess that it’s one of the best I’ve seen in a while, with superlative performances from both bands. We have learnt much tonight. Firstly, The Hives are not geriatrics in any way, shape or form. Indeed, research has told me that they are all broadly in their mid-forties. Secondly, their performance is every bit as kinetic and energetic as it was over two decades ago. Thirdly, when Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist says that the band will play a lot from their new album, he isn’t kidding. We get seven songs from it tonight. Finally, the whole population of Brighton Dome tonight really want to go and see The Hives’ show in London next Saturday. Well, I do anyway. The Hives remain an astonishingly good live band. If you haven’t seen them, you really ought to.

Words: Mark Kelly, Photos: Cris Watkins

GALLERY

©Cris Watkins Photography

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