This will be the first of many music reviews as I try to combine work, blog, work.

Stylishly ambivalent and wildly dramatic in equal doses, Theo Hutchcraft and Adam Anderson are worlds apart from northern indie bands near-compulsive modeling on the Factory’s output; or the glow stick dance revivals that have dominated the charts in recent years. Their emergence has signaled a steady change in the direction of the UK indie scene, and it is a testament to their dulcet tones and all-encompassing energy (or that of their record label) that they were regarded as one of the BBC’s Sound of 2010 bands before they played a single gig.

With recent northern bands such as Delphic and Everything Everything referencing their fair share of 80’s synths and coordinated harmonies, Hurts could be categorised in the same genre of emerging bands reinventing the synth-vocal harmonies perpetuated by early 1980’s groups such as Ultravox and Blancmange; but they have reinvented a tried and tested sound to emerge simultaneously familiar and refreshingly new. On first glance, the duo certainly lives up to that clichéd indie band image of indulgent self-consciousness in skinny jeans covering even skinnier bodies. Even the name Hurts screams self-styled seriousness but as they come to stage at St Phillip’s church they seamlessly weave that arty pretension and darkness into their performance and it is a fitting place to announce their arrival.

The opening song ‘Better than Love’ sets the tone for the rest of the evening, and as their lyrics grip the audience as Hutchcraft attests ‘and every minute more brings you closer to God’, they’re barely one song in and it feels like they are already on the cusp of notoriety. The song is reminiscent of early Depeche Mode; Ashcroft’s David Gahanesque voice is the perfect accompaniment against a razor-sharp electro backdrop. It is a slick production of a song and reflects the way the band has emerged– prepared, self-assured, marketable, and memorable.

When Hutchcraft sings ‘Wonderful Life’ the attitude and styling makes sense and throughout Never give up, it’s such a wonderful life’ the seriousness of their image and the venue is polarized perfectly with the early Pet-Shop boys energy of the song. Although this has been their first performance they have a refined quality to their music with a handful of decent songs as well as two future played-to-death radio hits.

Hurts referred to their gothic surroundings but they also rebelled against it. While the audience retained a somewhat respectable and focused attention on the band throughout the gig, I especially liked how Hurts used hymn- sheets alluding to their religious surroundings, standing resplendent in monochrome costumes, asymmetrical haircuts and distant stares. You are aware that you are a spectator watching a real performance, composed of not just musicians but a formidable electro pop sensation and by the end of the gig I am a Hurts convert. The church used to be a place of worship but tonight music, and this exciting duo has irrevocably taken that position.

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