Hurts - Live at O2 Academy Brixton Review - 4 November 2011

It’s brash, and crass, and at times a little bit over the top, but it’s everything a live show should be.

On arriving at a party on New Year€™s Eve 2010, it rapidly became apparent that I had been the only person not to receive the €˜fancy dress€™ memo. I felt like the kid in school uniform on non-uniform day. None too pleasant. That was until my friend Jack handed me a lifeline €“ €œHave you come as the lead singer of Hurts?€- my immediate response being €œwho?€ €“ but a few taps on the iPhone, and lo, Google could declare that yes, I had, somewhat inadvertently, arrived as Theo Hutchcraft. Ignorance IS bliss. So having used this well dressed fellow€™s name to blag my way through what could have been an otherwise awkward evening, I felt obliged to download their debut album (legally) and give them a listen. And I am not ashamed to say, step aside Neil Tennant, Theo is my new electro-pop hero. Yes the album€™s glossy. Yes it€™s kitsch. Yes it€™s full of pomp. But as Luke Lewis said in his review for NME €œ€™s weird that people will gleefully lap up Hollywood blockbusters, yet they won€™t tolerate their musical equivalent, which is an album like this: billowing, escapist nonsense that raises your heart rate, slaps a smile on your face and sounds godlike when drunk....€. Here, here. Having had the pleasure of seeing them live at V Festival, and seen them top polls for best live performance at both Glastonbury and T in the Park, the chance to see them at Brixton Academy wasn€™t about to pass me by. So suitably liquored, with a nearby Wetherspoon€™s supply of Jagermeister sufficiently drained, myself and four friends squirmed our way to somewhere near the front just in time to see the eleven-piece band (complete with string quartet, no less) take up position as spotlights swept the stage. Cue two hooded figures with flags closely followed by our men of the moment, a picture of sartorial elegance, and accompanied by the kind of screams not heard since Morrissey brought €˜This Charming Man€™ back into his live repertoire. The intro to €˜Silver Lining€™ booms out and I can€™t remember being this excited at a gig since Paul Weller introduced Bruce Foxton to the stage at the Royal Albert Hall in 2010. A semi-The Jam reformation this is not, but it has the feeling of something glorious. It€™s brash, and crass, and at times a little bit over the top, but it€™s everything a live show should be. As the set progresses, and the hooded figures disrobe to reveal two dancers, the crowd greet hits like €˜Wonderful Life€™, €˜Blood, Tears and Gold€™ and €˜Sunday€™ like old friends and every word from Theo€™s mouth is echoed by the 5,000 or so in attendance. Smile€™s slapped firmly on faces, and every song sounding godlike, perhaps we are a little bit drunk. Which may go some way to explaining my unbridled joy when Theo is joined for guest vocals on €˜Devotion€™ by.....Kylie Minogue. I€™ve never been a fan, her music drives me insane and in other circumstances I wouldn€™t give her a second glance. But I genuinely cannot remember being this overwhelmed since I heard a rumour that Morrissey was bringing €˜This Charming Man€™ back into his live repertoire whilst Paul Weller know where this is going! The set builds towards its climax with Theo milking every ounce of blood, sweat and adulation from the crowd before launching into €˜Stay€™ €“ he€™s reminiscent of a matinee idol, he€™s David Cassidy, Jordan Knight and Gary Barlow, he€™s the saviour of pop riding on his steed €“ and that€™s when it hits me, the overindulgence in everything 70 proof has taken its toll, and it€™s time to retire for the evening. But not before one colossal, mind-blowing finale. €˜Better Than Love€™ is like nothing I have ever experienced in such a confined space. People are climbing on top of themselves as the euphoria takes hold. Words are flung from the stage and bounce right back as the crowd eke every last syllable from the band and they depart to the kind of screams not heard since Morrissey brought....oh forget it! Epic. 80's. And a little bit camp. But I just can€™t get Hurts out of my head. Hurts played: €˜Silver Lining€™ €˜Wonderful Life€™ €˜Happiness€™ €˜Blood, Tears & Gold€™ €˜Evelyn€™ €˜Sunday€™ €˜Gloomy Sunday€™(Instrumental) €˜Verona€™ €˜Mother Nature€™ €˜Unspoken€™ €˜Devotion€™ (w/ Kylie Minogue) €˜Confide In Me€™ (Kylie Minogue cover w/ Kylie Minogue) €˜Affair€™ €˜Illuminated€™ €˜Stay€™ Encore: €˜The Water€™ €˜Better Than Love'
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Amateur blogger, Twitterer, professionally trendy, effortlessly indie and fan of all things Morrissey and The Smiths. Treat me with disdain.