Hurts,Performance Live Review @ The Trinity Centre (Bristol) - 08 Oct 2010


Live Review

A sell out Friday night crowd crammed into Bristols tiny Trinity Centre to glimpse a band on the brink of big time success, which refused to disappoint. Manchester synth-duo Hurts have grabbed the likes of Ultravox, Depeche Mode and Pet Shop Boys firmly by the scruffs of their necks and dragged the 80s into 2010 in their own well-styled, moody, synth-pop way and offer an absolute treat of a live performance.

Following a sterling if technical hitch cluttered set, the band Performance, a northern dark, electro-pop three-piece featuring a Morrisey-meets-Curtis front man flanked by a gothic blonde she-guitarist and an iBook-loving techno-gadget geek, Hurts took to the stage as dark shadows amidst a foreboding haze of dry ice and moody low lighting. As silhouetted figures pausing poignantly, heads bowed, to an eerie choral soundtrack, Hurts haunting, atmospheric scene was set for the fine performance that followed. From the outside, the Trinity Centre is a wonderful tall gothic-styled church promising a high-arched ceiling and arched stained glass windows that wouldve perfectly complimented Hurts character with haunting, echoing acoustics. Inside though, its a very sweaty community centre with low, strip-lit ceiling, whos saving grace is its intimacy (650 capacity) whereby those lucky enough to be at the front can literally lean on the stage; its unlikely that Hurts will be playing such low capacity venues for much longer, in an entirely good way.

Clad in undertaker-like monochromatic smarts, the duo, singer Theo Hutchcraft and pianist Adam Anderson, together with their identically dressed live band accomplices (vocalist, synth player and drummer), opened with the appropriately sombre Unspoken before the albums opening track of glimmering hope; Silver Lining, with their solo operatic tenor backing vocalist powerfully ensuring an all the more authentic recreation of their choir-backed album masterpiece Happiness. Hutchcraft then expressed his love for the city of Bristol to an appreciative local crowd before launching into previous single Wonderful Life, the melancholic-versed moving love story inspired by a previous visit to Bristol, singing of driving through the city to the Temple station around a mile from said destination. Later, the powerful chorus and moving lyrics of Blood, Tears and Gold and Evelyn sound clear above the bed of interlocking synths and echoing beats before the pounding disco groove of Sunday. Hurts lyrics are captivatingly honest and accessible and portrayed immaculately by Hutchcrafts soaring pure and pitch-perfect vocals and the musicians bed of sensitive instrumentals.

Verona and Stay, which both heavily featured operatic backing vocals, bookend a Kylie themed pair; a Minogue-less version of Devotion and a catchy and flawless cover Confide in Me, of one of their absent Australian friends hits. The beautiful, smooth ballad Verona echoed clear and anthem-like, a shining moments for Hurts backing tenor as Hutchcraft proved the strength of his own vocals before bowing his head, pausing still and handing over to his powerfully voiced operatic guest. Future single Stay on the other hand, a catchy-chorused pop song in the vein of Take That, which also featured the operatic males backing vocals, was well received with much audience sing along.

Concluding a concise, slick set with their Delphic-like, electro-pop single Better Than Love, Hurts left the stage to rapturous applause and (unsuccessful) requests for encore. Despite their album-contents-plus-cover headline set equalling a mere 45 minutes, through an incredibly tight and compelling, in-character performance, Hurts proved themselves as charismatic masters of their eighties-inspired, rich synth-pop blend.

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