Hurts – review

Heaven, London

One thing in Hurts' favour is that they're no bandwagon-jumpers – here's one band who will never sully their glaciated synth-pop by lobbing in a dubstep drop. Having found their calling as makers of music that could have been recorded in 1982, this Manchester twosome haven't deviated from it – their new album, Exile, so precisely recreates the New Romantic era that it's almost parodical.

Hurts, though, aren't laughing. In their minds, they're offering something thrillingly different from the 2013 norm, and they've clearly spent a bundle to ensure that this comeback gig is enveloped in the right sort of frosty grandeur. Each song has its own elaborate lighting scheme, from strafing strobes during Evelyn to the red and blue cloudscapes that give new track The Road its gloomy detachment. The effects complement the billowing synths and guitars, creating a stadium show in miniature and, if they ever do reach stadium level, they've already got songs that will sound massive when bawled by 70,000 people. There's a taste of that tonight, as the audience bark the choruses to their biggest singles, Wonderful Life and Stay.

In these moments, and when they play the new song Miracle – a concoction that manages to be both elephantine and stupidly catchy – it's not such a stretch to imagine them scoring Muse-sized success. It helps, too, that singer Theo Hutchcraft and keyboardist Adam Anderson are chiseled types who were born to be viewed on huge screens. Hutchcraft, who looks only mildly foolish in black leather gloves, may want to hone his banter, though. When fans are slow to raise their phones during the crowd-participation number Illuminated, he sighs, "That's good enough". "Good enough" won't cut it at Wembley.

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Contributor

Caroline Sullivan

The GuardianTramp

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