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Concert Reviews:
The Hives turn Clutch Cargo's into church of rock 'n' roll

for Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Thursday, June 28, 2012

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PONTIAC -- Pelle Almqvist and the rest of the Hives were clearly intrigued to be performing in a converted church on Wednesday night, June 27 -- which the singer frequently referred to as "a place of worship."

And the Swedish quintet had no trouble turning Clutch Cargo's into a venerable shrine for rock 'n' roll.

The Hives' 80-minute show was a blast of old school rock for a decidedly youthful audience. Promoting "Lex Hives," their first new album in five years, the Hives blended the energies of mid-60s Rolling Stones and "Raw Power" era Stooges, with Almqvist channeling the raconteur sides of Mick Jagger, Iggy Pop and Johnny Rotten along with -- special for this night -- a bit of Baptist preacher-style emoting. In their top hats and tails the Hives may have been dressed for a formal occasion, or the Ziegfeld Follies, but this was sweaty rock 'n' roll at its blow-the-roof-off best.

The Hives have more than just schtick to lean on, of course. Wednesday's 17 songs mixed a bunch of rock conventions, from the punky explosions of "Come On!," "1,000 Answers" and "No Pun Intended" to kinetic anthems like "Take Back the Toys," "Wait a Minute" and "Hate to Say I Told You So" and the meaty grooves of "Walk Idiot Walk" and "Go Right Ahead." "I Want More," meanwhile, traipsed close to metal, with the guitar tandem of Nicholaus Arson (Almqvist's brother) and Vigilante Carlstroem sending a sonic nod to AC/DC.

But Almqvist, as the showman, ran the show, working the front portion of the stage barrier and sliding around the speakers to get closer to the fans and crowd surfers. He declared that the group would indeed "once again make this a place of worship. We will worship on the alter of...me!" and even poked fun at his verbal pyrotechnics, cracking, "Am I making any sense to you? I'm making absolutely no sense to me. That's when it's at its best."

But his best trick came during "Tick Tick Boom," when Almqvist coached the small but exuberant crowd into creating a walkway down the center of the Clutch Cargo's floor. He then strode out to the sound board, introducing the rest of the band and then having the fans sit down before he made his mad dash back to the stage -- not something you see very often.

At the end of the night, before closing with "Patrolling Days," Almqvist noted that "It's been good to be back in MIchigan. You think we should come back more often?"

As if he really need to ask.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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