The Hives

The Cosmopolitan’s Boulevard Pool, Sept. 13

The Hives have earned a widespread reputation as one of the world’s greatest live rock bands for good reason. The Swedish quintet’s shows are fast-paced, high-spirited, humorous, packed with rollicking two- and three-minute ditties and just flat-out fun.

Taking the Cosmo’s rooftop stage in their trademark matching black-and-white (this tour opting for tuxedoes complete with top hats and tails), the Hives launched into “Come On!,” the rallying-cry opening track from Lex Hives, the band’s latest studio album. And for the next 80 minutes, it was on, a barrage of tight, blistering garage-rock tunes. The Hives played nine of the 12 songs from Lex Hives, strutting about through “Take Back the Toys,” “1,000 Answers” and “Wait a Minute,” and also revisited some of the best tracks from previous albums, stomping through “Walk Idiot Walk,” with its AC/DC guitar riff, and the Kinks-inspired recklessness of “Main Offender.”

Front man Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist whooped and pranced around with expert showmanship—a little Jagger here, a little Iggy there—and made bombastic statements, referring to the Hives as “wizards,” and observing “all the smart people in Las Vegas, all in one place.” He also worked the crowd, chastising individuals for not following his cues, instructing the audience that the correct answer to any question he asked was either “yes” or “Hives,” and imploring everyone to get in the pool. “It should be a Porky’s kind of thing. I want 100 people in there by the end of the show.”

The crowd’s energy intensified from there, and when the Hives erupted into the breakneck “Hate to Say I Told You So,” followed by the punk attack of “Patrolling Days,” the pool became an all-out splash pit, with people flailing and flopping about to the music. A three-song encore that closed with the explosive “Tick Tick Boom” only escalated the intensity, and resulted in the entire band ending up in the pool. Leave it to the Hives to make the biggest splash of the night. ★★★★☆

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Welcome back to the neon jungle, “cheeky monkey.” That simian endearment—to clue in yet-to-be-converted comedy consumers—is the self-description of Craig Ferguson, the wholly original Late Late Show host who returns to the Venetian on Sept. 13-15, stand-up act in tow. Someday soon, the impishly subversive Scotsman should tote his TV show along instead. More than a wisecracker prowling a stage with a mic, Ferguson is a trailblazing broadcaster. That’s the Fergie we deserve here for a week of shows now and then.