The Hives – July 26, Palace Theatre
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The Hives – July 26, Palace Theatre

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An unlikely pairing with their headliners, The Grates exercise video routine opened the show with their high energy bounce-pop, augmented by lead singer Patience’s kebab stories and a two-way devotion fest to the few squealers down the front; no doubt the very reason The Palace’s strict checking of ID for absolutely everyone exists. Despite not being anywhere near my cup of tea, Patience gained my respect for her immense courage and faith in the ethical standards of the crowd. Lucky she was wearing sensible jocks then, as she sang one song from the shoulders of a random audience dude, another while crowd surfing all the way to the back of the dance floor and at times, favoured a Courtney Love-esque stance on the foldback.

The Hives were fantastic. Bursting full of strut and decked out in matching tuxedos with top hats and tails, their show is also almost entirely focused on a charming lead singer. Howlin’ Pelle delivers rock sermons from the drum riser; scissor kicks off the fold backs, and warms everyone up with endearingly arrogant banter: “Ever since I was a little boy growing up in Sweden, I dreamed of seeing the hands of Melbourne.” He swings the mic high and catches it just in time to provide the next line, and uses the stand to simulate both strangulation and machine-gunning the audience during drum rolls. All eyes were fixed on him. Most commanding though was getting the entire venue (bar one stick-in-the-mud) to sit down during Tick Tick Boom, and it was a marvelous sight when the band kicked back in and a thousand people suddenly stood up and started going crazy. For more theatrics there was even a pause when the band stopped mid-song and froze, resembling Wax figures. Guitarist Nicholaus Arson also believes in showmanship, licking his fingers dramatically pre-strum and swinging his guitar 360° around his back, Elvis style.

The master though is Pelle, cupping his hand to an ear to entice more applause and at the end, while walking off, even extending a backwards hand and gestured to the audience to rapturous ovation. He eventually returned, put his top hat down and said, “This is for tips.” Had he been serious, I’d of chucked in at least a buck.

Loved: The Hives Ninja roadie, second only to Neil Young’s Jawa roadies as Best Ever

Hated: Palace’s drink prices

Drank: The most expensive beer in Melbourne