At the Majestic Ventura Theater last Wednesday night, an occasion that was their “last time in a long time” in the United States, The Hives lived up to their buzz with a killer set of, to quote singer Pelle Almqvist, “Swedish garage rock punk music.” And to paraphrase his later declaration, the men in black and white were sounding out of sight, and doin’ alright.
The Hives, who always dress in black and white when they perform, looked sharp in top hats and tuxedos with tails. And unlike their last visit to Ventura, when guitarist Vigilante Carlstroem was too ill to play, the lineup this time was in full force.
Note must be made of Almqvist’s live wire energy. He barked out lyrics while jumping around or climbing up on the PA speakers or the bass drum, and between phrases he twirled and threw the microphone a la Roger Daltrey. He also was amazing at drawing enthusiasm from the crowd with his between-song banter.
The setlist had a number of songs off their cool new album, Lex Hives, which just came out in June, including the kick off song “Come On!,” the rocking “My Time Is Coming” and “Midnight Shifter,” which Almqvist announced they were performing live for just the third time ever.
They also performed songs from their back catalog, including a few off their breakthrough 2000 album, Veni Vidi Vicious, namely “Main Offender,” “Die, All Right!” and “Hate to Say I Told You So,” the latter of which was introduced as the national anthem of the Nation of The Hives.
As onstage, there was also an element of craziness in the pit. At one point a guy dropped onto me from above — I’m still not sure where he came from. Scrambles broke out periodically to grab a drumstick that drummer Chris Dangerous threw out into the crowd; a roadie in a black ninja suit would then give him another. (One glanced off my face, but someone else got the souvineer.)
And toward the end, Almqvist handed out a few roses to a few people in front, one of which was promptly thrown back onstage as only a stem.
For the last song of the evening, “Tick Tick Boom,” Almqvist had everyone sit or squat down until the explosive finale brought them back to their feet. On their last stop in the United States for the foreseeable future, The Hives went out with a bang.
Try It Again
Take Back the Toys
Walk Idiot Walk
My Time is Coming
No Pun Intended
Wait a Minute
These Spectacles Reveal the Nostalgics
Won’t Be Long
Hate to Say I Told You So
Go Right Ahead
Die, All Right!
Tick Tick Boom
— Noozhawk contributing writer Jeff Moehlis is a professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his Web site, music-illuminati.com.