What have The Hives, The White Stripes and The Strokes all got in common? Three bands who are the new saviours of rock and roll? Or three bands hyped by the likes of the NME beyond their true capabilities? Not heard of the Hives? Then you must have just come out of winter hibernation. And this new wave of indie-uber cool doesn't tolerate dissenters. It's impossible to get an objective opinion from NME as it fawns over the Swedish garage rockers like its own newborn baby, so I went to see them for myself. Shame it's taken NME seven years to pick up on them.

It's amazing how quickly things have gone nuclear for the Hives. Barely ten weeks have passed since they played a free show on a rain-soaked Tuesday night at Sheffield's Casbah Club back in November last year. Tonight it's the second night of a sell-out UK tour at Sheffield's Leadmill. People have been queuing since 4pm for the clutch of tickets on the door.  The buzz of expectation as they take the stage in their uniform of black shirts/trousers and white ties/shoes is tangible. The instant focus of the band the chisel featured 'Howlin' Pelle Almqvist, surely the result of a cloning experiment with Mick Jagger and Ian Brown at a secret laboratory out in the Swedish tundra, in the small town of Fagersta. Just as well really, given at least two of rest of the band look like your least favourite uncle, the one with the 80's dress sense.

As they launch into their frenetic 45 minute set, which includes the majority of McGee's Poptones' compilation 'Your New Favourite Band', they are as tight and reassured as the title suggests. Unsurprising given that last year they notched up a staggering 300 plus gigs. It's difficult to begrudge such a hardworking band their success. 'Howlin' Pelle has the crowd eating out of his hand from the minute he struts onto the stage with his tongue-in-cheek showmanship and finely honed skills of irony. They are a band on the crest of a wave, their Swedish roots and the (semi mythical) manner in which they came to form almost incidental.

And so to the music itself. The Hives' formula is one of simplicity itself. Three minute, three-chord stabs of garage punk'n'roll - the
fundamental elements of such great bands as the Troggs, the Sex Pistols, the Stooges and the Ramones. They have all the right moves too. During 'Here We Go Again' the band simultaneously freeze mid song in statuesque pose for 30 seconds - before the guitars come crashing back in. After the band have cleaned up with songs such as new single 'Hate to Say I Told You So', 'Die, Alright!' and an encore of 'AKA Idiot' they are gone. But there's something nagging away at the back of the mind. While the band are top-notch performers, there's something important missing. The sting in the tail behind all the hype, beyond all the showmanship and energy is the fact that there is a chronic lack of good tunes. Underestimate the power of the good tune at your peril. Who in three years time will be humming a Hives tune? Perhaps they should have a word with fellow Swedes the Wannadies. Perhaps, I'm missing the point. Time itself will only tell as to whether Alan McGee's saviours will become our saviours and drag us from this mire of formulaic, manufactured pop and soulless dance music.













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