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Live Review: Tears for Fears
Redbrick's Nina Avitabile heads to Birmingham Arena to cover Tears for Fears' long-awaited rescheduled gig
Perhaps the greatest feature of mainstream pop in the 1980s was the proliferation of artists who created commercially successful albums that managed to retain deeper meaning and artistic integrity (although this is sometimes more obvious in retrospect). Searching for some of the best examples of this led us directly to a sold-out evening at Birmingham’s Resorts World Arena and one of the biggest bands from the era, Tears for Fears.
“Tears for Fears’ set was a perfectly constructed blend of sound, ranging from the darkly meditative to the gloriously melodic
A perfect example of the type of album previously mentioned is 1985’s Songs from the Big Chair. The album features some of the band’s biggest singles, such as ‘Shout’ and the U.S no1 ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’; the phenomenal and final track. The album is undoubtedly the band’s commercial and artistic peak; a concise 8-track wonder featuring luscious production with lavish reverbs and extended saxophones intros. The record explored much broader social and political themes than that of their introspective debut The Hurting.
“It was evident that Tears for Fears had not lost any of their technical ability as a live act, with Curt Smith easily handling the complex runs of their early material
These themes drove iconic sound of Tears for Fears in their performance on Tuesday 12 February, as founding members Roland Orzabal (lead guitar) Curt Smith (bassist) took the stage in front of some 15,000 fans. Their set was a perfectly constructed blend of sound, ranging from the darkly meditative ‘Memories Fade’ to the gloriously melodic ‘Head Over Heels’. The latter was featured in the 2001 cult hit Donnie Darko and the song sounded so euphoric and relevant, considering its release more than thirty years ago.
It was evident that Tears for Fears had not lost any of their technical ability as a live act, with Curt Smith easily handling the complex runs of their early material. Their keyboard-heavy sound was also well replicated in the vast cavern of the arena, which made for a great live performance. What was perhaps more surprising was that even on some of the more challenging songs, both Orzabal and Smith remained more than capable of lending their voices to the anthemic sounds of some of their finest moments as songwriters. They had an impressive ease and presence on the stage and the intermittent jovial and anecdotal chats to the crowd (of the curry they had eaten backstage and stories of Smith’s mother in law) made the huge arena seem smaller and more intimate. The audience was made up of a wide range of age groups; as well as some die-hard fans who had been following the band since the eighties, there was a clear presence of the younger millennial generation, showcasing Tears for Fears’ timeless popularity.
“Perhaps the most poignant feature of the evening was its close: with each repeat of ‘Shout, shout, let it all out’, the atmosphere in the stadium became electric
Perhaps the most poignant feature of the evening was its close: the aforementioned hit single, ‘Shout’. With each repeat of ‘Shout, shout, let it all out / These are the things I can do without’, the atmosphere in the stadium became electric. It was hard not to be reminded of just how uniquely brilliant Tears for Fears are, and how important the 80s were in creating some of the best popular music that still holds up today. Although many fans were dispirited when the original Birmingham gig, planned for May of last year, was cancelled, it felt like no-one could have left this performance disappointed; the iconic duo and backing back created a truly tremendous show.