Hurts - HMV Manchester - 6.9.10

This is the first time Designer Magazine has seen Hurts live, that said it's only their 3rd ever hometown gig despite the fact in their short lifetime they've found time to collaborate with Kylie, perform on Greece's equivalent of the X Factor and do the obligatory NME tour for indie acceptance before they fuck off and become enormo popstars. If anything it's a bit weird seeing such an epic band doing an instore gig as your first experience, especially considering their Manchester debut was in the more appropriate surroundings of a church, but that said Hurts are a very different prospect to their previous band Daggers who's party always started at Gay O'Clock with electro pop par excellence and Hurts are the sort of band that lend themselves to 6pm after a few light cocktails after a hard day in the office.

Despite touting themselves as just pop and laughing off 80s reference points, Hurts actually couldn’t be any more 80s if you dug up the Blue Peter Time Capsule from 1982 while listening to Spandau Ballet. This isn’t New Romantic or some Romo revival, but adult MOR pop as much aimed at housewife's as the sort of trendy kids who would now head down to Clique each week. Any of these tracks could easily feature on Key 103's top 10 at 10 80s special and nobody would blink an eye. That said what they do, they do very well and as such you wont be escaping this album for the next 2 years. Throughout tonight's short set we cant help but feel give us just one more, Hurts live are truly epic and 10 seconds in you forget you're actually in the basement of a record shop.

Each of Hurts songs have the same formula. Take the simplest melody, add torn vocals for a lost love and then ramp up the chorus with a 7ft Opera singer and orchestra. As Theo Hurts keep's reiterating "It's so important we launched this in Manchester. This was the city we wrote this album in and its steeped in Manchester". This is a very much Manchester in feel and as Mancunian as the rain we've come to expect in this city every day. That they dress up in a suit rather than dressed down in a parka and jeans doesn’t make it any less so.

Throwing away "Wonderful Life" as the 2nd song is a brave move but shows the strength of the bands slim, but rich catalogue. It really shows Hurts ability to craft meaning into a short brief pop moment, how many top 10 songs can you name so explicitly about suicide?

"Sunday" hints at their past as Daggers, but takes in the majesty of the Pet Shop Boys so much that you almost expect a choir of miners to come out and join them for the chorus. Lyrically its classic loss and love, but like Morrissey in Manchester equates long Sunday's as the epitome of hell.

"Stay" is such an obvious title and obvious lyric, but proves that the simple ones are the best. It may prove to be Hurts pinnacle as songs really don’t get better this.

Ending on "Better Than Love", a song that admittedly we had to google to check it wasn't a cover as it sounds so familiar, see's the band in uptempo disco mood and proves that while they have a rich history in power ballads, they can pump the same melodrama into the disco and the dancefloor.

When Hurts play a sell out date at the Ritz next month in Manchester, it will actually only be their second headline date. A well deserved success story to follow on from the pop bomb that was the Ting Tings

Words: Alex McCann
Photos: Jo Lowes


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All Interviews by Alex McCann unless otherwise stated
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