Heaven, London, February 7
So, Harry Styles is here tonight. Not just a mere celebrity-spot, but a doe-eyed symbol of how very, very successfully Hurts have fused underground flavours with the glossiest of commercial tunes to become big enough to have a private jet, Europe at their feet and an actual pop star as a pet. You wouldn’t see Harry at, say, an Oh Land gig, would you?
Except you almost would, because tonight’s support, Say Lou Lou, fit snugly into that wafty, chilly synth-pop slot, dreaming of Stevie Nicks and Pat Benatar while cooing smokily about “days of ashes, nights of flames”. It’s beguiling, but we’re not here for subtlety.
They’re dressed for the opera, but of course, Hurts are pretty much slumming it in the 900-capacity Heaven. Their colossal presence and formidable lightshow speak of three years spent owning festivals across the continent. The new songs bouff their high drama even higher. Theo Hutchcraft and Adam Anderson begin with the title track from their forthcoming second album, ‘Exile’, all low, rumbling technoid bass with Theo’s voice silky on top. It’s captivating, as is ‘Miracle’, with Theo’s agonised cry of “And deeeeeeep in my hearrrt you will FIIIIIIIIND” clutching your aorta with iron fingers in a velvet glove.
The tune-assault continues, and the crowd responds by creating a stadium within a club, howling along to the robotic swagger of ‘Silver Lining’ and the flouncing glory of ‘Evelyn’. New track ‘Blind’ is what should have happened when Rihanna duetted with Coldplay, as eerie treated backing vocals and cavernous drums create a dramatic backdrop to Theo’s heartbroken howls. ‘Cupid’ has sharper rock teeth, a pounding beast that along with apocalyptic synth-goth shredder ‘The Road’ offsets the sweeter moments and reminds you that Hurts came to their pop pinnacle via a more circuitous route than our Mr Styles.
The duo seem delighted to be back, Theo hurling the customary white roses into the crowd. They may be first-class poseurs, but they’re not afraid to look like berks in the service of passion. And as they close with the rush of ‘Better Than Love’ and the air-punch glory of ‘Stay’, that passion is infectious to the point of unstoppable. And that’s what makes them beautiful.