Even before the global pandemic, a Tears For Fears sighting was rare, particularly in North America. Indeed the duo from Bath, England, who got the world’s toes tapping with their synthpop-flavored debut The Hurting and the global smash Songs From the Big Chair, last toured this side of the pond in 2017.
Since then, they’ve put together a brand new album, the critically acclaimed The Tipping Point. They’re quite proud of it. So much so, they played seven of the albums ten tracks in concert, which left the faithful quite pleased and the casual fans hoping for a few more hit singles.
The show opened with “No Small Thing,” which snuck in a bit of Wings’ “Let ‘Em In.” That was followed by the title track. A fine way to get things rolling. Not wanting to get too risky, it was time for “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” the band’s first top-40 hit in the U.S., which spent two weeks at No. 1.
One of the things TFF were always known for was the glacial pace at which they put out albums, and their later years have been no exception. Much like OMD, the two core members, Roland Orzabel and Curt Smith, had a falling out in the 1990s. Like OMD, one continued on with the name, while one did not, only to reconcile in the early aughts and make a record. However, Orzabel and Smith took another 15 years to make 2022’s The Tipping Point. In any case, they played one track from 2004’s Everybody Loves a Happy Ending, but it wasn’t either single. They opted instead for “Secret World.” They also played one track from the just-Roland years, the U.S. top-20 hit “Break it Down.”
After a stunning version of “Sowing the Seeds of Love” (unpopular opinion: TFF’s best song), came a four-song suite from the new album. They’re definitely a band that wants to play their new stuff. In a 2004 interview, Orzabel stated that he almost dreaded having to play the hits. Not because he’s not proud of them, but because being synth-heavy songs, they left him little to do apart from sing.
While the crowd got a bit restless with the new material, it was well-received overall. Friends later commented that they were quite happy to hear a lot of the new album. Some, though, would have liked to hear maybe one or two more tracks from the first two records. To that end, “Suffer the Children,” from the first LP, was wonderfully realized by back-up singer Carina Round. Her vocal made the song even more powerful than the original.
The encore was a nice encapsulation of the main set. A new track, “End of Night,” followed by the new wave anthem “Change,” and the expected finally “Shout.” No way around it, that’s the closer, and not because it spent three weeks at No. 1; it’s just a banger. It’s one of those songs that might be better live, though the studio track still impresses in the 21st century.
A nice night of music indeed, with Garbage setting a nice table for TFF’s set. Roland looks OLD, but he sounds amazing, hitting those notes spot on. Curt, who by all appearances has also kept his temple clean, was also in great voice, which only left the crowd wanting more, although after “Shout,” they had let it all out.
Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels
PF Wilson has been writing about music, TV, radio, and movies for over 20 years. He has also written about sports, business, and politics with his work appearing in Cincinnati CityBeat, The Houston Press, Cleveland Scene, Cincinnati Magazine, Cincy Magazine, Atomic Ranch, and many more. Check out his podcast PF’s Tape Recorder available from Podbean or in iTunes.