Hurts - Heaven, London
The smoke filling Heaven tonight almost makes it near impossible to see the silhouettes responsible for causing the fevered levels of anticipation under the arches. Middle-aged men bustle for shoulder space with teenage girls, both equally as charged for the appearance of their heroes. Showcasing new material to a crowd filled with your nearest and dearest can be equally daunting and comforting, and the crowd are on tenterhooks to see the next chapter hype-fuelled indie duo Hurts will write.
Forthcoming album Exile stands up on its own two from the off, the title track making a bold statement as an opener. Casting away any shadows of doubt caused by the magnitude of their debut album, 'Exile' is a storming introduction to their sophomore offering. The bass drowns out the rumbling of trains passing through Charing Cross station overhead; Theo Hutchcraft fills the cavernous railway arch with his towering figure. Cutting a shape in a full length coat, and keeping his hood firmly up for at least the first five minutes, he is every inch the frontman - a ringleader to the masses clamouring at the tiny space by his feet.
With toes hanging off the stage, Hurts start building on the sound responsible for all that anticipation, which tips over to boiling point by the time fan favourite 'Wonderful Life' is aired. The understated vocal flows seamlessly into the synth-heavy sound - reaching equal ends of the spectrum with vulnerable, brooding tones soaring into anthemic choruses, backed by the incredibly passionate, vocal audience. To those unfamiliar, the New Wave influence is incredibly obvious, however Hurts also mix the elusiveness of Radiohead with the presence of Muse. The vastness of these comparisons only stands to prove the capabilities of the duo.
A grimy mixture of sweat and spilled drinks coat those lucky enough to be in here - this show could easily fill an arena, both in terms of demand and stage presence. This correspondent has previously made half-arsed efforts to catch Hurts from a distance during the festival season last year. Tonight is oh so different - the band have converted a passer-by into a proper fan.