The Hives in The Olympia Theatre, Dublin, on Monday 15th April 2024

The Hives first appearance on ‘Later with… Jools Holland’ in 2001 after the release of their second album, ‘Veni Vidi Vicious’, still sticks out as one of the show’s high points as Hate To Say I Told You So and Main Offender were belted out with absolute self-belief by your new favourite band, decked out in matching monochrome and playing like they invented punk rock.

A couple of decades and a handful of albums later, The Hives still have the pulling power to fill a venue like The Olympia of a Monday night, not least because they always were one of the most entertaining live acts around. The years haven’t mellowed them – last year’s ‘The Death Of Randy Fitzsimmons’ album just breaks the half hour mark – and as frontman, stuntman and MC beyond compare, Howlin’ Pelle, puts it from the stage,  The Hives are “the very best in the world at whatever the fuck it is we do up here.”

The spirit of Bowery punk is alive and well in the image and antics of Essex five-piece Bad Nerves, all sleeveless t-shirts, high-top Converse, high kicks and star jumps. While the spritely blast of USA harks to their east coast influences, there’s even more of a power pop kinship with early Supergrass and the Flying Nun band roster. The expansive stage the venue affords suits them, and they fill it with a kinetic presence.

Storm Kathleen meant tonight’s show had to be pushed back a week from last Monday, and Pelle acknowledges the delay: “The time it took for us to get to Dublin was doublin‘.“ It’s a gag he returns to over the set, along with numerous references to leprechauns, the greatness of The Hives, self-proclaimed and otherwise, and encouragement to sack off work the next day at every opportunity.

“The English have given me some kind of weird disease and I will be going into the crowd a lot, so call in sick tomorrow.” True to his word, he spends much of the gig down at the front barriers anointing heads, high-fiving, grabbing whatever outstretched hand is nearest to wipe his brow and generally working the room – all this despite claims that the band have “temperatures of 900°C”.

In a rare moment of stillness, Good Samaritan stops and they all freeze-frame. A chorus of “Olé, Olé” breaks out in the crowd, cut short by the maniacal grin that breaks out on Pelle’s face as he jumps off the upturned monitor to set it all off once more.  It’s he and lead guitarist Nicholaus Arson who cover most ground, the former throwing the microphone every direction and the latter patrolling the stage, carving out licks and throwing out picks with a glare. Guitarist Vigilante Carlstroem seems a bit more subdued on this occasion, maybe a byproduct of the English fever that has befallen them, but his band leader makes up for it in endless high kicks and all-round rabble rousing – “You call in sick yet?

Drummer Chris Dangerous leads the encore as Pelle promises that “We’re gonna wring the last bit of Hives out of this rag.” It’s their final show for a while and he’s determined to see us out on “a natural high” as everyone is commanded to hunker down low before the Tick Tick Boom finale snaps the venue to its feet. Storms, ferries and fevers be damned; The Hives return to Sweden victorious. 

Venere, videre, vicere; they came, they saw, they conquered.