The band sported a new bass player, new to the U.S., anyway; The Johan and Only's been in the band since 2013. Drummer Chris Dangerous was missing, also; as Almqvist graphically explained to the crowd, he was the victim of some recent stomach surgery, and it's testament to the band's legendary showmanship that the cog that is the replacement drummer, whose name I regrettably missed, labored smoothly inside the Hive Engine, not missing a beat (figuratively, too, his moves in perfect sync with the rest of the band.) Watching the Hives own the stage, riding atop their insanely propulsive riffs and hooks, brings to mind peak, late-70s/early-80s AC/DC: rhythm guitarist Vigilante Carlstroem, he of the stout figure and Nordic beard, anchors stage right like a mountainous Malcolm Young, and flash lead guitarist Nicholaus Arson roams the joint like a more dapper Angus, all come-hither gestures and audience-baiting, laughably basking in the glow of his own wonderfulness. And Pelle: let's just say that he and Bon would've likely gotten along. Almqvist was charmingly imperfect at this gig: he was drinking beer, and more than once lost himself in the middle of his well-rehearsed patter, at one point letting loose a genuine grin and announcing, "Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached the part of the show where I have no idea what the fuck I'm talking about!" He quickly righted himself on those occasions, but the crack revealed the ace showman behind the mask. I liked him better for the rare fuckups.
I'm a fan, obviously. It's especially fun to be a fan of the Hives. You're in the joke and the joke always delivers. "You do everything you weren't allowed to do in school," Almqvist has remarked about playing live. "Jumping up and down, screaming, annoying people, and people love you for it." A jest, and the truth.