The Hives Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto ON October 3

There’s a reason why when Sweden’s the Hives come to town, shows sell out in record time. While the band provide no frills with their punk rock-influenced garage, they don’t need it. Stepping out onto the cavernous Phoenix stage with little more than their requisite red neon sign projecting the band’s name in simple script, and miniscule amplifiers, singer Pelle Almqvist, guitarists Vigilante Carlstroem and Nicholaus Arson, bassist Matt Destruction and drummer Chris Dangerous doled out soul showmanship and seamless tunes with a fervour reminiscent of James Brown’s salad days. Where other acts may rely on flash pots and fancy lighting rigs to offset their limited talent or meagre stage presence, this quintet — gussied up in slick black and white suits — were randy and ready to tear the city a new one. Kicking off with little fanfare, Dangerous opened the show via a simple beat that was eventually fleshed out as the rest of the band took to their instruments and let fly a whirlwind of upbeat, danceable pop/rockers that spanned their six-album career. Bounding around the stage, Almqvist made full use of the area at hand as he taunted the crowd with wit ("Who cares if your dad saw Jimi Hendrix when he was 15. Fuck him. He’s old and this is the Hives, 2007!”) and numbers including "Two-Timing Touch And Broken Bones,” "AKA I.D.I.O.T.” as well as newer tracks from their forthcoming Black and White Album. "You Dress Up For Armageddon” and lead single "Tick Tick Boom” were well received despite being relatively unknown. Rounding out the evening, crowd-pleasers from best-selling Veni Vidi Vicious ("Main Offender” and "Hate To Say I Told You So” respectively) solidified the fact that despite hype and hoopla over album sales, when heart and soul drive a group, nothing tops a furious live show.