The Hives

support The Fume
author PP date 31/01/13 venue Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

Even though they count amongst the biggest music exports from our neighboring country Sweden, catching The Hives play live in Denmark has been rare in recent years. They returned last year to play at NorthSide Festival in Århus, which was apparently such a well-received show that the band decided to schedule a show for us Copenhagen based people for the soonest possible opportunity. But when you've been gone for so long and the tickets are priced at 285,- DKK a piece, the result is a less than half full Store Vega even with the upstairs area completely closed off. So not the sing along fest we might have been expecting, but the band don't seem fazed by it at all and deliver a solid, entertaining performance nonetheless. But first, let's discuss opening band The Fume.

The Fume vocalist sporting a hipster mustache

The Fume

It's not difficult to understand why The Hives brought fellow Swedes the Fume along for the ride. They are practically identical to The Hives sound wise, albeit with a slightly stronger focus on groovy rock'n'roll rather than straight up garage punk, plus their attitude matches the entertainment first approach of The Hives as well. The singer, who is sporting a giant hipster mustache, often ignores the microphone in between songs and just shouts obscenities and cocky remarks towards the crowd. He has one of those rock star type personalities, which means he can get away with all sorts of ridiculous stuff like shaking his ass to the crowd, grooming his retarded mustache, and generally acting like a pompous douchebag without it feeling offensive or inappropriate. Armed with a classic rock star look (fur vest and no shirt underneath), he both looks and acts accordingly, and so when he spends time in inciting cheers from the crowd and tells us condescendingly that we're not loud enough, people laugh it off as a part of the act. So when they pull out a decibel meter later on, and show that it reads 80 before the song and 90 during the cheer mid-song, it's feels less gimmick-ey than it probably should have. Their songs are decent, but they are definitely helped enormously by their attitude because there's a lot of filler in between. It's a decent warmup that gets the crowd ready for the headliners.

7

The Hives vocalist liked climbing on things

The Hives

I usually think big stage productions are a waste of money, but the setup The Hives have going on is actually quite neat. There's a funky puppet master background banner created in 3D that says The Hives, with light systems setup inside the letters so they flash and change colours at will. It's definitely different to what most bands have and makes for an interesting backdrop behind the band. We're left to marvel at this structure in a lengthy piano intro, which is as dramatic as it is foreshadowing of what's going to happen next. Eventually the band arrive on stage, all dressed up in fancy tuxedos complete with top hats and everything, which make for some funny moments as they fly off almost instantly as the guitarist/bassist start showing off some of that energy that The Hives have always been known for.

But back to the dramatic theatrics. Their singer has an entertainer's heart, which means he is a showman first and a vocalist second. In carefully calculated stage persona, he spends his time climbing and jumping off anything he can find on stage, whether that means the speakers, the drum kit, or the barrier between the crowd, which even the guitarists revisit on a couple of occasions. The crowd loves it and his infectious energy rubs off on the people by "Take Back The Toys", which has the Store Vega floor feeling like a trampoline as it bends underneath the weight of people bouncing up and down in unison, but not as much as his hilarious banter between the songs. Right before "My Time Is Coming", he proclaims that he wants to be elected the king of Denmark, and says to the crowd "You are either with us or against us" in prequel of his banter later on. He finds a girl near the front a couple of songs later, and asks her to translate from Swedish to Danish the following: "You are (pause) maybe (pause) watching (pause) the best rock and roll band in the world. It would be sure if you showed us some appreciation". The best part is that we can't tell if he really means it because the crowd isn't as loud as he's used to given its smaller size, or if he's joking for the sake of his stage persona.

The Hives

I'm leaning on the latter definition, because apparently "I Hate To Say I Told You So" is the greatest rock song ever written, better than "Livin' On A Prayer" (Bon Jovi), better than KISS, better than Dio, etc. according to him. I mean the band's roadie, who picks up the constantly falling mic stands etc, is dressed up as a freaking ninja. But it works, and even the security guards are rocking out at this point, because it's hard not to appreciate the way that The Hives truly perform their songs instead of just playing them.

A great example is one of the last booms in final song "Tick Tick Boom", which breaks abruptly into guitar feedback with everyone in the band completely frozen in arbitrary weird positions for what feels like several minutes. It's a little touch like this that makes their set so entertaining to watch.

Ninja on stage during encore

The setlist offers a good mix of new and old while avoiding the weird R'n'B material from "The Black & White Album" and sticking to the crowd favorites from that album instead. There aren't many huge sing alongs because like I mentioned earlier, the crowd isn't an ideal size for that sort of thing, so you could argue that the crowd dynamic isn't optimal. It also feels like a lot of people have forgotten about the band and their songs because it's been so long. So the special something is missing tonight that would make a good show into a great one.

Setlist:

  • 1. Come On!
  • 2. Try It Again
  • 3. Take Back the Toys
  • 4. 1000 Answers
  • 5. Main Offender
  • 6. Walk Idiot Walk
  • 7. My Time is Coming
  • 8. No Pun Intended
  • 9. Wait a Minute
  • 10. I Want More
  • 11. Won't Be Long
  • 12. Die, All Right!
  • 13. Hate to Say I Told You So
  • 14. The Hives Declare Guerre Nucleaire
  • 15. Bigger Hole to Fill
  • 16. Patrolling Days
  • --Encore--
  • 17. Go Right Ahead
  • 18. Insane
  • 19. Tick Tick Boom

Photos by: Julie Weitmann Decome

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