In their recent concert at the Mann, Curt Smith of Tears for Fears was discussing working on their recent album The Tipping Point. It is their first album in 18 years, and only the second album of the new millennium. In fact, it is the only the second album they have done as a duo since Sowing the Seeds of Love in 1989. (Smith left the band from 1991-2000, during which time his band partner Roland Orzabal released two albums with other collaborators as Tears for Fears.)
Smith said as they were working on the new album, they were hearing from all sorts of people in the business, trying to hook them up with hip young writers and producers who could update their sound. Finally, Smith acknowledged, they realized it made sense to recognize the fact that they had grown older, and to just keep on doing what they always have done.
Yes, Tears for Fears has gotten older – we all have – but on this comeback tour they still sound mighty tight.
They led off with the new stuff, playing the delicate ballad “No Small Thing” and the electro-vibed title track from “The Tipping Point.”
However, then they pulled out the big guns, tearing into a slightly hard-edged take of their first number one single from the summer of 1985, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” Performed live with a full band it lost a touch of its new wave synth feel, but it still sounded like brand new all these years later.
The rest of the set continued the mix of old and new, with favorites like “Mad World,” “Change” and “Head Over Heels” (done in a medley with “Broken”) keeping the nostalgic energy up. All the while lesser-known newer songs and album tracks like “Badman’s Song,” “Suffer the Children” and “My Demons” showed the band’s progression and eclectic diversity.
Not surprisingly, the set only included one song from the two albums in which Smith was not with the band, and that one, their last hit “Break It Down Again” fit like a glove. The sweetly psychedelic “Sowing the Seeds of Love” has aged well, bringing a touch of retro-flower-power to the fore. The band also playfully interspersed a snippet of the old Wings single “Let ‘Em In” into their own fan fave “Secret World.”
One of the finest moments came in the gorgeous and tragic ballad “Woman in Chains,” in which the backing vocalist Laura Evans did a stunning master class in gospel vocal power, taking the lines originally done by Oleta Adams on the record.
By the time they led into the encore with a gorgeous take on “Head Over Heels” (still the band’s finest song to my ears) the crowd had settled into a sweet groove. Then they came back to close out with a three-song encore which included a driven take on their early single “Change” and then shut things down with the band’s classic sing-along protest “Shout.”
Post-grunge hitmakers Garbage, featuring fiery frontwoman Shirley Manson and drummer Butch Vig (the unofficial fifth member of Nirvana during their heyday and the producer of their classic Nevermind) got everything started with set that was fire. Like Tears, they started up with a couple of lesser-known more recent songs – “Automatic Systematic Habit” and “The Men Who Rule the World,” before slamming into their hits with a scorching take on their 90s classic “Stupid Girl.”
Surprisingly, in this 12-song set, they skipped over one of their biggest songs – the 1999 soundtrack favorite “#1 Crush” – but the set included all the band’s other favorites. And I have to give extra credit for the fact that they pulled out a dramatic take of their underrated James Bond theme “The World is Not Enough.”
Their songs still felt coiled and venomous as Manson screeched her way through fan faves like “Queer,” “Push It” and a sweet medley of their song “Wicked Ways” mixed in with Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus.”
She also did a surprisingly restrained but still powerful version of arguably their biggest hit, starting “Only Happy When it Rains” as a pensive ballad before bringing the beat up slightly, even giving it a bit of a reggae vibe, then eventually exploding into the second chorus as the band turned things up to eleven.
So it sounds like Smith was only partially correct on his judgment of his band – and his opener, too. They may have gotten older, but they still can rock the house.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2022 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: June 23, 2022.
Photos by Jim Rinaldi © 2022.