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HURTS/PERFORMANCE @ THE RITZ BALLROOM, MANCHESTER 05/10/10 - REVIEW BY PHIL KING

Playing the Ritz Ballroom is a rite of passage for superstars in the making.  Some of Manchester’s most famous bands, The Smiths, The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, have all passed through it’s doors and on to greater things. Tonight it’s the turn of local boys Hurts, who’ve really travelled a long way in a very short time since their first gig at St Philip’s Church back in February. Then the place was filled with the curious, tonight the dilapidated environs of the Ritz is rammed with the devoted.
    

Making a welcome return, grim northerners out for a laugh Performance were handed the job of entertaining the crowd. Playing songs drawn predominantly from their recently released Sophomore album, 'Red Brick Heart', the trio of Joe Stretch, Joe Cross and Laura Marsden skip through their set with real zest.  Cross supplies the electronic percussion and twiddles the knobs to kick-off the pre-programmed/pre-recorded tracks, while Marsden and Stretch contribute the human element in the form of electric guitar and voice respectively. They ease into their eight song set but soon have the crowd on their side with a selection of instantly memorable tunes. 'Breakdown' gets a thumbs up from the audience, though with it’s the pulsating synths, rockstar guitar and impassioned vocals of LP track 'The Living' that completely wins the crowd over to their side.  I’m sure their myspace page was hit pretty excessively the following day.  

http://www.myspace.com/weareperformance 


There’s a tangible buzz before Hurts make their entrance; thanks to the success of their debut LP, 'Happiness', and the constant airplay enjoyed by hit single, 'Wonderful Life', the band are perched atop a wave of popularity.  So as Theo Hutchcraft and Adam Anderson slink through the dry ice the crowd are definitely ready to get on the good foot. Looking sharp in suits, slicked back hair and highly polished shoes, the two boys, with the addition of a backing singer - who looks for all the world like Peter Schmeichel -, a drummer and an additional keyboard player surge into their the first song. The lighting is stunning and one gets the impression that Hurts puts almost much thought into presenting their music as they do into making it.

   

Singer Hutchcraft’s confidence is growing in his position as focal point of the band.  Although Hurts are a duo, Anderson is the quieter and spends the majority of the gig sat at his keyboard, while Hutchcraft sings and makes small hand gestures.  On paper that sounds stupid but on the stage it’s surprisingly effective, and like him or not, the guy has a certain charm and considerable presence.

 

Though synthesisers are often linked to the experimental side of music, I’d be surprised if Hurts had any desire to create anything more difficult than a repertoire of great pop moments. And the fact that a thousand or so people have ventured out to hear them probably vindicates Hurts ambition.  Every song gets a warm greeting though tracks like 'Illumination' and 'Evelyn' and hit single 'Wonderful Life' are welcomed like classics. After an hour the strident 'Better Than Love' brought the show to it’s finale.

I don’t know if Hurts will reach the giddy heights of other Manchester legends, but they’re certainly heading in the right direction.

http://www.myspace.com/ithurts

Review/photos by Phil King - Thanks to Work It Media