The winding queue of fanatics that line the street hours before doors to The Troxy even open and the high percentage of them that know every word to Ultravox's 'Dancing With Tears In My Eyes' are very clear signs of what to expect from this evening.
In Eastern Europe, Hurts are a stadium-filling tour de force, while in England they're pop's biggest cult band - but wherever they go, Theo Hutchcraft and Adam Anderson are a magnet for a very specific type of fan. A Hurts fan is a dedicated lover of melodrama in their music and theatrical pomp in pop - militant in their following and completely without shame, but why the hell shouldn't they be?
That's not to say that they're all the same demographic. Tonight's sold-out crowd consists of screaming teen girls, casual indie lads, German goths on pilgrimage, slicked-back Theo clones and your mum, pining for the lost days of 1980s power-pop. Some sit and ponder while others completely lose their shit, but when a hooded Hutchcraft, flanked by the shadowy Anderson, steps onto the stage for the operatic opener of 'Mercy', all are enthralled by one of the few acts with the balls to put the spectacle back into pop.
The curtain emblazoned with the band's monolithic logo drops to the ground as they kick into the pumelling 'Miracle', unveiling a stunning new live set of dizzying lights and a lightbox stagefloor - suggesting that the band are planning ahead for venues with a size that matches the scope of their sound. From the chillingly perfect 'Wonderful Life' to the balls-out boyband balladry of 'Somebody To Die For' and the Trent Reznor dark dynamics of 'Cupid', Hurts pillage the best sounds of yesteryear but present them with the conviction of a catalogue of classics.
Few bands could carry the same ecclecticism of a track like the Timbaland-esque bounce of 'Sandman', with the Human League majesty of 'Sunday' and the howling horror of 'The Road' in the same set, but Hurts take everything to the Nth degree of extreme with grace and aplomb.
In the highest of spirits and humbled by the fervour that welcomes them back on stage for rousing 'Better Than Love', Theo Hutchcraft stands smiling as fans of all ages and cultures holler at the sheer class on what's on offer - another sign of the universal appeal of all that they do. In a world where the charts are awash with manufactured evil, it's a delight to see a band take on mainstream sounds with such fierce forethought and independence. A guilty pleasure? Get over yourself - this is just solid-gold pop done properly.
Somebody to Die For
Blood, Tears & Gold (Acoustic)
Better Than Love
Below: Exclusive photos of Hurts live at The Troxy, London