Concert Review: Hurts at TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht

Hurts_Tivoli

Photo Credit: Michiel Vos, A Bit of Pop Music

Hurts has TivoliVredenburg in the palm of their hands
It is over seven years ago that Theo Hutchcraft and Adam Anderson from Hurts had their big break. The British duo launched their career with the album Happiness back in 2010 and had a few proper radio hits in countries like Germany and Switzerland. Although their music never really reached the highest regions of the charts in the Netherlands, they do have a solid, loyal Dutch fan base. Enough reason to visit the country with every new record they release. Hurts are currently promoting the release of Desire, their fourth album, and travelled to Utrecht for an energetic and slick show.

Hurts brought Tom Walker with them as a supporting act. He warmed the crowd up with an Ed Sheeran-esque mix of acoustic singer-songwriter pop and some hiphop influences. He played brand new tunes as well as the material from his Blessings EP. Soon after, it was time for the main act of the night. Theo appeared on stage, dressed in a stylish suit of course, accompanied by Adam, two backing vocals, a drummer and guitar/keys/bass players. They opened with the upbeat recent single ‘Ready To Go’, which immediately sets the fast paced tone for the whole night.

Although Hurts used to be known as quite a dark and moody electro pop band, their appearance on stage became somewhat lighter through the years. Theo still is the mysterious centre of attention, but he also learned how to be a show man. He jumps around on stage during explosive tracks like ‘Some Kind of Heaven’ and ‘Nothing Will Be Bigger Than Us’ and he knows exactly how to get what he wants from his audience. When he tells them to wave their hands during ‘Sandman’, they all do so. When he tells them which parts to sing of their excellent 2017 single ‘Beautiful Ones’, everyone does what he asks. He has a certain intriguing charm about him that seems to captivate the audience the moment he steps on stage. Everyone who was not won over from the start should at least have fallen for him after he repeatedly hands white roses to audience members or puts his fist in the air after almost every single song to show his appreciation for the audience reactions. Also important; the guy never misses a single note!

Their fan base seems quite diverse with a seemingly even spread of men and women while all generations seem to be enjoying the big synth pop sound of the duo. There are enough fans from the first hour in the room who scream on the top of their lungs when early hits ‘Better Than Love’ and ‘Wonderful Life’ are played. The setlist is a high paced collection of the best of their four albums with as highlights the subtly disco influenced ‘Lights’ (from Surrender) which swings even more in a live setting and the romantic new tune ‘Hold On To Me’.

Throughout the whole gig, it feels like the songs properly come alive in a live setting. The flawless backing vocalists add some touches of soul and gospel, while the instrumentation sound fuller and more powerful than on record. This goes for the anthemic ‘Wings’ with which they initially close the show, but also the Desire tracks they came to promote. Theo is one of the strongest male vocalists of his generation and the band as a whole goes the extra mile live with exciting arrangements. They save the drama, bombast but at the same time heartfelt emotion of ‘Stay’ for last. And that is exactly what we came for!

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