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The Hives, 02 ABC, Glasgow

Are the Hives the finest pantomime band in modern music?

Oh yes they are, on the evidence of this show, their first headline Scottish appearance in five years. The music hasn't changed much, but the Swedish fivesome, who appeared suited and wearing top hats, offer more than just tunes.

That's not to say their songs are bad, just a tad one-dimensional. It's clattering garage rock all the way, with some shameless pinching of rock'n'roll classics, from Walk Idiot Walk lifting the Who's I Can't Explain riff to Insane being on familiar terms with Chuck Berry's work.

The music is raised by the antics of the band. Having their roadies and occasional percussionists dressed as ninjas was one touch, but singer Howlin' Pelle Almqvist's proclamations were far more surreal, from suggesting a series of escalating numbers for ranking the gig's quality on a scale of one to five (he settled into the thousands) to verbose descriptions of each band member.

He amusingly barked at a couple of chatterbox fans to stop talking, and his movement was equally eye-catching, all leaps and scissor kicks, while his brother, guitarist Nicholaus Arson, pulled several ludicrous faces. Yet for all the knockabout nature of the set, they're extremely tight and rattled through their pacy material with impressive verve.

The closing numbers featured the always exhilarating Hate To Say I Told You So and the recent Go Right Ahead, which bounded along like ELO's Don't Let Me Down. Yet the energetic bravado made it easy to ignore such borrowing, with a extended Tick Tick Boom, complete with freeze-frame pose and Almqvist instructing the crowd to sit down, proving a ridiculously entertaining finale.

HHHH

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