By Jake Paterson, Co-Deputy Music Editor
Playing just before one of the most beloved UK bands of all time in the form of the Arctic Monkeys is no easy task. What helps is an insane amount of energy, performing on your birthday and tunes coming out of your ears; all of which was in abundance for the Swedish outfit The Hives.
Lead singer Pelle Almqvist was electric from the start, whipping the crowd into a frenzy with his self-reverential comments and call and repeat tracks that have graced our ears for over two decades. Opening with the lead single off their new record The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons, 'Bogus Operandi', Almqvist had one simple question for the crowd: "Do you love rock and roll music?"
The answer was, of course, yes. As they launched into anthems 'Main Offender' and 'Walk Idiot Walk' the crowd were jumping up and throwing their arms around exactly to the beat. The band themselves were loving it; having played a much smaller venue the last time the band were in Bristol, Almqvist suggested that "You guys must have done a lot of f***ing, your population has quadrupled" as if the entire world is only what he can see before him. It could have come across as self-absorbed if it wasn't hilarious.
His quips continued throughout the set and really brought the band to life to warm the crowd over to them straight away. Initially starting each speech by shouting "Ladies!", resulting in a high pitched cheer, and then "Gentlemen!", resulting in a lower cheer, and finally "Ladies, Gentlemen, and everybody else!", he had everyone's attention instantly and they played to his rhythm exactly. "What a beautiful stadium you have here Bristol" he said at one point, "Would be a shame if something happened to it, like rock and roll, or The Hives!"
The band played 'Rigor Mortis Radio' and 'Good Samaritan' before launching into the worldwide hit 'Hate To Say I Told You So' which has been belted through football stadiums in every country for years. It found its home perfectly in the Bristol City ground and when Almqvist had everyone squatting down to leap up again as the final verse came in, the crowd were in rapture.
Although their sound still feels at home in the early 2000s alongside the likes of The White Stripes, the band made the tracks feel alive and full of life as part of a train that will seemingly never end.
Jumping off the stage to walk along the barrier and pat everyone's head in the front row during the penultimate song 'Tick Tick Boom' as the sun began to set, the band's performance was impossible to take your eye off and incredibly fun. As Almqvist got everyone to sing him 'Happy Birthday' before the final track, anyone not initiated into The Hives family before the show was certainly now.
When they closed with 'Countdown to Shutdown' and Almqvist talked of their "Soon to be released, soon to be award-winning new album", I don't think anyone in the crowd would have any doubt that the record will take them even further than they have gone before.
Featured Image: Jake Paterson
Have you seen The Hives live?