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LIVE REVIEW: The Hives & Bad Nerves @ Manchester Academy

Following the release of their first album in over a decade, Swedish Rock and Roll troubadours The Hives took to the stage at Manchester Academy last night to prove that the genre, and indeed themselves, are very much still alive! 

Photo Credit: Ebru Yildiz

First of all, we have to give a special mention to support act Bad Nerves who are undoubtedly one of our favourite bands in the country right now. Channelling a blend of classic British Punk and coastal American Garage Rock, their music is straight-to-the-vein and their live performance perfectly matches this high-octane approach. Often shouting “fuck slow music” to the crowd, the Essex quintet stuck hard to their manifesto, barreling through their slew of electrifying anthems with highlights coming in the form first album hits such as ‘Palace’ and ‘Can’t Be Mine’.

It is rare that you get to see a band gaining hundreds of new bands in real time but that is really what it felt like; you could see the room start to bubble up with excitement, increasing in energy with every track. It is a testament to the band’s new releases that the tracks that really hooked the new fans on side were the insanely catchy, chanted Rock onslaughts of ‘USA’ and ‘You’ve Got The Nerve’ which are singles from their upcoming sophomore album ‘Still Nervous’ (Out May 31st). They were the definition of what a support band should be and their performance has made us even more excited for that new album, which is set to be one of the best of the year. 

The Hives then emerged on stage to a rapturous applause, emboldened by huge ‘HIVES’ lettering behind them that played a big role throughout the night, adding a dramatic lighting to the stage. They took no time whatsoever warming up, diving headfirst into a double-barrel attack of ‘Bogus Operandi’ and ‘Main Offender’, two of their biggest anthems both new and old that lighted up the crowd into a frenzy. It is incredible how these two tracks, written over 20 years apart, can breathe the same insatiable Rock and Roll spirit! 

Another fantastic pairing was the stomping grooves of ‘Rigor Mortis Radio’ and ‘Walk Idiot Walk’ that had the whole crowd clapping and chanting along while lead singer Pelle Almqvist paced around the stage. Talking of Pelle, he has to be one of the best frontmen in the business. As he said later in the evening, he is “experienced in the ways of Rock and Roll” and that sure is true; he knows just what to say to keep the crowd jumping, screaming, clapping and chanting at the drop of a hat. His constant calls to the crowd and beckoning hand gestures meant that the audience was bustling with energy from start to finish. The euphoria that Pelle and the band are experiencing is visible throughout and his truly infectious. In an interview with us at the end of last year, Pelle explained how they have kept performing to such a high-intensity for over 20 years:

“The thing with our show is we give so much energy and then it kind of bounces right back. So on one hand your body gets tired but your soul feels better and better. So it's not just tiring, it also gives you a lot of energy. We want it to be like ‘Oh shit, what was that?’. I don't want to have some kind of un-energetic rock show, that sounds terribly boring to me. We love doing that super high energy rock show, like, jumping off of things and screaming and tearing stuff down and all that stuff. It's what we love doing the most, so that's why we're gonna do it. You have to have a moderate amount of cardiovascular fitness, I suppose, but some kind of movement is needed just to feel good as a person, I think. Afterwards I feel both euphoric and exhausted. It's a great feeling. I get to feel that so many more times than most people and that's why I'm happy”. 

Unsurprisingly, another highlight was the classic hit ‘Hate To Say I Told You So’ which really propelled them to global fame and, as with every other track on the setlist, it was performed with just as much vigour, passion and intensity as it was 20 years ago. It was during tracks like these that the widespread appeal of The Hives could be felt in full force as over 2,000 fans of all ages sang along in unison. 

Pelle continued his charmful teasing of the crowd during the encore as he constantly insisted that they were entering a danger zone of Rock and Roll that was not safe and invited everyone to enter at their own risk…which of course everyone did, and no one was disappointed. ‘Come On!’ kicked the energy back into gear, new album track ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ injected a grandiose drama to proceedings and then ‘Tick Tick Boom’ closed the show with an overwhelmingly joyous barrage of Rock euphoria that left the room shaking. A tremendous finale to what was an unrelenting evening that proves Rock will never die. 

Even after two decades, The Hives remain one of the best live bands in the world and are truly unmissable. So, we urge you to catch them on the remainder of their tour! Tickets available here.


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