Tears for Fears, still around, still great
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The band that brought 80s hits like “Mad World” and “Shout” paid a visit to Las Vegas at the Sunset Station ampitheater
It’s not often you get to see one of the biggest new wave bands of the ‘80s, but the duo of Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith — the two creative forces behind Tears for Fears — graced Las Vegas this past Saturday at Sunset Station’s outdoor amphitheater.
Few new wave bands managed to make it out of the ‘80s with more than a hit or two (Simple Minds, A Flock of Seagulls, A-ha … the list goes on for ages), but Tears for Fears was one of them thanks to classic songs like “Shout,” “Mad World,” “Head Over Heels” and a lot more.
Although they broke up in 1991, Orzabal continued with the band name, releasing two albums: 1993’s Elemental and 1995’s Raoul and the Kings of Spain — both of which contained consistently good work. The duo reunited in 2000 (long before anyone else started doing it, right?), and released a-not-so-successful 2004 album, Everybody Loves a Happy Ending. But despite the title, it was far from any ending as this past Saturday proved.
A relatively cool night welcomed a crowd that looked to be around 2,000-3,000. Despite seats across the amphitheater, the crowd rose to cheers when Orzabal and Smith walked on stage, starting it off with the fan favorite “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.”
The band followed up with “Secret World” off of Happy Ending and then dove back to the ‘80s with “Sowing the Seeds of Love” off of the 1987 album Seeds of Love, playing off of the energy from the crowd. The duo looked just as happy as the crowd, smiles, sideward glances and all.
The question was how would Tears sound 30 years after their first hit single “Mad World” came out in 1982, and it was answered with a profound “absolutely great,” spoken by an attendee nearby throughout the night. Orzabal managed to hit his falsetto’s without any difficulty, and Smith, although seemingly slowing down on a couple songs like “Pale Shelter,” held up just as well.
As anyone would expect, the biggest fan-favorite singles were all present, but the audience wasn’t too excited by the overabundant amount of tracks off of Happy Ending. They’re good, no doubt, but not what people wanted to hear, as evidenced by some finally taking a break by sitting down.
“Memories Fade” was a nice touch for those deeply experienced in the Tears catalog, but “The Hurting” or “Suffer the Children” would have been a great addition too. The band even played a couple of songs from the period after Smith quit, dishing out “Break it Down Again,” off of 1993’s Elemental, and “Falling Down,” from the 1995 album Raoul and the Kings of Spain.
After finishing up with “Head Over Heels,” which — as one of my personal favorite songs ever — sent shivers down my spine, the band headed off stage, but it wasn’t long before they came back to a crowd yelling “Shout!” repeatedly, as it was one of the biggest songs they didn’t play — but everyone knew they would.
Orzabal and Smith walked back out, Smith heartily thanking the crowd for the night, and then the band began “Woman in Chains,” with backing vocals performed by opening act and Tears touring band backing vocalist Carina Round. Then came the final moment that everyone was waiting for, a slightly re-done version of “Shout” started, and just about everyone sang along — it couldn’t have been better.
Despite having their heyday three decades ago, Tears for Fears showed that in a world which has mostly forgotten the new wave and synth pop era of the ‘80s, they are still trudging through the 21st century in stride thanks to the likes of Donnie Darko reaching a younger generation, and playing the occasional show like this. The only thing left to wonder is when — or if — an album where they return to their roots will ever come, but if not, their legacy will remain in the world untarnished, and that’s okay too.