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The Hives' frontman Howlin' Pelle Almqvist leaps into the air Sunday at the House of Blues in Anaheim.
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The Hives bring top hats and sweat to HOB


What a gamble it must be for P!nk. The rocking and grammatically whimsical pop star recently tweeted she was taking The Hives on the road with her for the upcoming U.S. tour. Like most opening acts, the stylish Swedes will be met with a certain amount of indifference given a good portion of her fan base.

But then, there will be some nights – and it’s close to impossible to predict when and where – a sprinkling of Hives fans or some open-minded P!nk followers might wonder who outshined whom. Most should brace themselves for quite a night, regardless.  

The Hives, as proven by Sunday’s performance at the House of Blues Anaheim, remain one of the best live acts around. Period.

The energy, showmanship and ability to engage with their audience using classic stagecraft and rousing, irreverent songs is really something to behold. The detonation a lot of P!nk fans are about to get at the nearest arena, a much smaller crowd got to absorb in the more intimate surroundings of the Mouse House, much to their exhausted delight.

The Swedes are still supporting their latest offering, 2012’s Lex Hives. Bouncing from label to label on their previous four albums, the band’s fifth overall is their first on their own imprint, Disques Hives, which might be providing the extra incentive for reaching out to the pop-sphere. But Sunday was purely for pogo-ing devotees.

Leaning mostly on the tracks from Lex as well as the look: the strict uniform black-and-white stage attire the band adheres to was top hat and tails like the album cover and helped propel their typically highly caffeinated sets with an even greater sense of theatricality than before, as if tongue-in-cheek garage rock had overrun a Fred Astaire musical.

Kicking off with the album’s opener, “Come On!” – a song knowingly designed to serve the same purpose live – the band only gave time to big hits, like “Main Offender,” “Walk Idiot Walk,” and “Hate to Say I Told You So” stuffed at various points in the middle, but they did choose to save “Tick Tick Boom” as the appropriate closer. And, after frontman Pelle Almqvist’s crowd surf over the people he had just coaxed into squatting on the packed floor in front of the stage, it was a sweaty, satisfied bunch making for the exits. Let this be a warning to the pink popstress, game on.

The Hives
House of Blues Anaheim
Sunday, Feb. 17

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