Live at Cockpit on Monday, 4th February 2002
It's a wet Monday night in Leeds and the Swedes are here to rock us, alright! As steam rises off the unfortunates who have queued in the misery outside, winter blues are quickly vanished by the arrival of punk rockers Sahara Hotnights. Combining two of the best things a band can do - shouty backing vocals and cooking tunes played on dirty sounding guitars - they rock the hell out of this audience. Although veering close to being samey at times, the singer's impassioned screaming and a couple of shocking S-Club 7 style key changes are compelling enough.
Randy take the stage with a bluesy song and an lovely daftness that makes me smile - hard. They've got elements of the blues, boogie-woogie and swing, doing it all in a fast jangly stylee. Unfortunately, they're a bit wilfully zany, but there's something I find irresistible about a band who count a song in by shouting, "One, two, this song is for you!" That and the song they've got that sounds like a cross auctioneer.
From the second that enormous and until now concealed "The Hives" sign lights up till the time The Hives walk off stage, blowing kisses at the audience, its clear that nobody in the room has enjoyed themselves this much since the first time they illicitly got drunk on cheap cider. In Howlin' Pele, The Hives have got a frontman with better moves than Jagger, with more charisma than Prince and sharper wit than Wilde. He can be forgiven his occasional forays into arrogance ("We're going to play our last song now, and say goodbye for the first time", he says in reference to the encore he knows the audience is going to demand) because his likeability, humour and ability to climb the speaker-stacks monkey style make him the strongest frontman since Freddie Mercury.
But its not just Howlin' Pele that makes this band rule. Its also the tightness, the hollerin' enthusiasm of the rhythm section and the beautiful riffs. With their rockin' guitars, sharp suits and snappy rhythms, tonight The Hives are the greatest show in the world. "You've all been thinking, when is there going to be a band that I can get into, that I can like?" we're asked. "A band that I can like more than other bands I have ever liked before? Well, I say that time is now! And that band is The Hives!" Damn straight, Pele. They make most other bands look stupid and pointless even for trying.