I remember the first time I heard Hurts. It was 6 years ago, I was getting in the shower and getting ready to go out as a rebellious, emotionally-stunted (Ta Mum) 16-year-old. I turned the music channels up loud enough to hear over the water. Then this song comes on. It was Stay. I had to turn around and go back and find out who these people were.
Since then, I’ve almost spontaneously gone to see them about 4 times and each time it’s massively failed (okay, once was kinda impractical at a festival in Tallinn but it would be like two dreams come true.) But this weekend, I finally got to see Theo and Adam in action for their Surrender tour.
To start, Spector, a band I’d never even heard, took the stage. Front man, Fred Macpherson, (looks like a hot substitute teacher meets Austin Powers). They’re bouncy and electric and were an excellent warmer.
After their closer All The Sad Young Men, a black mesh curtain falls between the stage and the audience and ‘Surrender’ is projected onto the stage, so the whole audience knows shit is about to go down.
With the black veil still separating us, a chorus of Surrender accompanied only by soft lighting and smoke comes from the stage. The lights start flashing like lightening in the sky as the drums kick in, and I can only describe it as immense and climatic as Adam Anderson takes to the piano and Theo Hutchcraft poises himself at his mic.
Some Kind of Heaven begins and with a fist pump from Theo in the first chorus, the veil drops and that’s it. Lights, phones, cameras, hands, voices, vibrations altogether on this one stage, in this one room in Brixton, London.
The backing vocalists and other instrumentalists performed on a raised platform at the back of the stage, Adam and Theo’s instruments or prancing about occupying the rest. They played through half their set, which was a carefully crafted combination of all their albums and all their different musical phases. Upliftingly melancholic Happiness, to gothic-romantic Exile to punchy drums and long riffs in Surrender, until they reach their half way point, Illuminated. An unsuspecting but unanimous highlight, the entire audience chanting back to the stage, the whole space lit up with an insane light show and incredible haze.
The truly emotional Blood, Tears and Gold, catchy Rolling Stone and Sandman were other major highlights.
As always, their look is on point. All black everything; Adam slightly resembled the grim-reaper in a long flowing jacket and Theo began all proper and buttoned up, but that quickly deteriorated to bare chest and sweeping across the stage. He has a Johnny Depp-esque effortless sex appeal about him and is just sheer animation on stage, (and off the stage, when he jumped off- twice) flinging flowers into the crowd and flirting with his mic wire and having fun. Their look, their energy and their music are all dramatic, a good surge of originality.
I knew I’d been waiting for a long time to see them, but it surprised me to listen to everyone around me. There were people from all over Europe, as colourful as the boys are monochrome.
They finished on Wings from Surrender but came back for an encore of Better Than Love and the song that made it all happen, Stay. As Theo purrs out the lyrics, I don’t think anyone can keep the emotion off their faces. I managed not to cry, but I don’t think I can say the same about the two on stage or most of those around me.
On a final note, I might do another post on the sub-plot of the day, because it was fairly dramatic and features a sassy Sophie and a very scary Sally.