“Are you insatiable?”: The Hives Concert Review


Lydia Chowdhury reviews The Hive's 'manic' performance at the 'Manchester Academy 2'

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Image by Lydia Chowdhury

By Lydia Chowdhury

Three gritty sweeps of the guitar in the pitch black Manchester Academy 2, and the spotlight turned its attention to the drummer, who conducted a screaming audience with his drumsticks: Chris Dangerous. Lead, Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist, flew across the stage as if propelled by an acrobatic rig. Suddenly, five men appeared in black suits covered in lightning bolts and musical notes.

The Hives are masters of the art of showmanship, suspense and projecting that ‘80s rock n’ roll, a certain scoundrel suaveness (despite them being from the ‘90s). Performers first, musicians second: you can’t keep your eyes off them. Seriously, blink and you’ll find the lead, Almqvist, has disappeared off stage, on an amp or the barriers somewhere.

They frenetically start playing ‘Bogus Operandi’ from their 2023 album The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons. Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist, doing it old-school, starts air-kicking at high frequency. The choreography went something along the lines of this:

“I told ya [air kick], you mend it,

Bogus [double air kick] Operandi [air kick]”

Empty cups (even two-pint cups) of grim beer were already flying across the room at this first song, really getting the crowd raring, Almqvist thrusted the mic towards the audience, eliciting more screams and a couple lyrics.

Resembling Jim Carrey’s exaggerated, comedic moves and expressions: the crazed spherical eyes, caricature grins that make your jaw hurt just watching them contort, whiplash-inducing hair flicks. Almqvist’s goofy dance moves and arm pumping, scream the reckless abandon of a kid playing air guitar on steroids.

“Manchester, I’ve heard rumours about you,” Almqvist ploys inquisitively in his ‘80s talk-show host voice, “that you’re the best audience on tour”. Next to me, a guy was holding his phone up towards the stage, on FaceTime to his mum.

The audience was a real mixture of ages, however, definitely more popular among the middle-aged folks. Hopefully gaining more traction with the younger crowd, The Hives are definitely the opposite of boring. The Swedish band transports you into the flamboyance of the ‘80s American rock scene. Alluding to a light Mötley Crüe chemical indulgence and craze, they are; spitting, kicking, flailing round the stage.

When the lights went off, their glow in the dark suits let you track their movements round Manchester Academy 2. Almqvist starts scaling and teetering off a pile up of amps to the right of the stage. I begin to understand how he reportedly started bleeding profusely from a microphone-induced dent in the head whilst supporting the Arctic Monkeys… especially when he starts swinging his mic from its lead.

Out of nowhere, Almqvist screams,


as a prelude to his ramble about his “experience in the way of rock”. It was difficult to pick up on most of the things he said: a combination of the grit from the amp and his slurring Presley voice presenting ‘Rigor Mortis Radio’.

Almqvist questioned the audience, growling like a revving engine, “Are your hands ready? Are your mouths ready? Are you ready to take it all in through the eyes?”. They started playing ‘Idiot Walk, Idiot Talk’. Microphones were swung, guitars were swung by the strap: a regular cirque du soleil performance.

In the fashion of the Wolf of Wall Street money chant, Almqvist has the audience chant with him in the same cadence of the earlier “ye-ah’s”:


Over and over again, gutturally. Almqvist then demanded that everybody scream to continue the show, ticking all the boxes off the audience participation checklist. The band freeze froze, barely blinking, bent over in a prayer-like manner towards Almqvist and the audience. A solid minute of silence from the band whilst the audience screamed screams that eventually fizzled into a classic English chant. The turnover wakes up the band from their somewhat avant-garde, tableau vivant.

The rest of the night consisted of: sweaty bare chests, Almqvist flinging himself into the crowd for a (failed) crowd-surf, then people crowd-surfing in solidarity, said people being scooped up by security, water being spat, sprayed over stage. There was more mic swinging, an overarm guitar swing, everything being swung; collars turned up, and Almqvist goading people into chugging their drinks.

“Most people can’t take this much rock and roll”, Almqvist applauds.

“Are you insatiable?”