Never ones to do things half-heartedly, The Hives enter the stage to dramatic, Jaws-like music booming out of the speakers. The nonchalantly stroll on, naturally, to ‘Come On’, gearing up the audience.
If there’s one thing The Hives can be commended for if nothing else, it’s their stage presence, and if there’s anywhere this counts more than ever, it’s a festival the size of Reading, where the crowd is so huge it’s impossible to physically reach or even see every member of the crowd. Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist climbs speakers, throws his microphone, throws cups of water, jumps into the crowd and screams into the microphone, strutting around the entire stage and surrounding area. He is the absolute epitome of a performer- cocky, unstoppably energetic, funny and a natural at controlling the crowd; he sits perfectly in line with Jagger, Mercury and McCartney.
Unusually, the band is comprised of four original members but replacing Dr Matt Destruction is a new bassist. The bassist is introduced by name with no mention of the return of Destruction, however his return is likely as the band have once remarked, “It is The Hives now, then and forever” and that if a member should depart they would have to stop.
Tracks from 2013’s Lex Hives are dispersed throughout the set- ‘Go Right Ahead’ and ‘My Time Is Coming’ receiving the best reactions. In an explosive rendition of ‘Tick Tick Boom’, the entire crowd is ordered to sit down, before the group freeze in motion for over a minute, a trick the band often use on tour. Upon standing, the crowd begins to jump furiously until the ground shakes below. The band introduce a brand new song, ‘Two Kinds Of Trouble’, a hard, catchy and instantly memorable rock’n’roll stomper, feeling both different to the rest of the set but still unmistakably their own.
It’s a tremendous show from The Hives, and the audience are given no choice throughout but to obey Howlin’ Pelle’s demands.