"Hellooo Europeans...Do you like your rock with punk in it?" If you squint, he looks like Mick Jagger with a few added inches in the height department, but Hives frontman Howlin Pelle Almqvist kicks and struts more like Iggy in his prime in this live gig from October 29, 2004. He blows the crowd kisses after "Main Offender," lets them bear him aloft during "Walk Idiot Walk," then asks, "Should you not be dancing?" before "Die, All Right!" There's also plenty of duck-walking, over-the-head clapping, and not-so-idle boasting ("The Hives are the hot band!"). To be sure, it's schtick, but after years of charisma-free alt-rock acts--Jon Spencer and the reformed Stooges aside--it's certainly refreshing to stumble across one as committed to showmanship as musicianship. Together, the spats-sporting Swedes run through 19 numbers, including Dion's "I Was Born to Cry."
Tussles in Brussels includes four videos, five TV performances from the UKs
Top of the Pops, and the strange Little Steven-narrated film "The Hives, Hinduism and Me." The latter is undeniably original, but not necessarily informative (no band interviews, but beaucoup groovy graphics). Overall, those looking for subtlety have come to the wrong place, but for those who've lost their faith in two-chord rock--hold on tight and let the Hives take you on an adrenaline-fueled ride.
--Kathleen C. Fennessy