by / September 9th, 2010 /

Hurts – Royal Institute of British Architecture, London

Manchester’s most dapper duo, Hurts, have certainly dressed for the occasion. In the opulent surroundings of the RIBI, the be-suited twosome find that their grandiose 80s-influenced pop fits perfectly. To say it evokes the spirit of the ’80s is an understatement – touches of Ultravox, Depeche Mode and Duran Duran swirl into a mix of synth-pop goodness, and every song feels reminiscent of yet another band from the era. Even Boy George stands among the crowd solidifying the boys’ bonafide 80s credentials. Their short performance is impressive, no doubt about it. With flawless sound and booming, epic vocals all set to an incredibly loud base of emotive synth, it’s something of an experience. The glorious, swooping ‘Silver Lining’ sends shivers up the spine as frontman, Theo Hutchcraft, entrances with the lower depths of his captivating vocal range.

Everything is polished here from the stage set-up, to the outfits, to the building the audience stands in, but then that’s all part of the entertainment. Hurts seem to have cottoned on to the fact that it’s all a show, it’s all part of a grander spectacle. Without the right setting and attitude, their over-the-top choruses and echoing drum beats would simply be contrived and empty. As it is, it’s performance. It’s a show. We appreciate them for the sharp, open-necked suits and slicked back hair. We admire the male opera singer at the back of the stage, drawing cohesion with the piano (albeit an electric one) diagonally to the front. We bathe in the saturations of deep colour flooding the stage at various times, matching the mood of the music. It’s a carefully constructed image but one that works so well.

How nice it would be to dislike these perfectly poised hyped hipsters. How nice it would be to dismiss them as all style and no substance – simply just a product of commercial flair and financial backing. The problem is, they’re good. They’re not perfect, sure – a couple of songs fade into nothingness – but when they get it right, they shine in all their flamboyant, bombastic glory.