Tears for Fears Debut Four New Songs Live at 2022 Tour Kickoff: Review, Photos and Setlist

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The post Tears for Fears Debut Four New Songs Live at 2022 Tour Kickoff: Review, Photos and Setlist appeared first on Consequence.

Addressing the crowd on Friday (May 20th), the first night of their amphitheater tour with Garbage at Cincinnati’s Riverbend Music Center, Tears for Fears founding member Roland Orzabal pinpointed the band’s mood as “chuffed,” as in “deeply satisfied in a particularly British manner.” The band had brought out “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” three songs into their set, sounding just as pristine and cathartic now as it did when first recorded nearly 40 years ago.

Conventional wisdom might be to save such an iconic hit for the latter half of the set or the encore. But Tears for Fears are not a mere legacy act capitalizing on Gen X-er nostalgia. You can identify the most popular songs by how many people start recording on their phones. But deeper cuts, like epic multi-parter “Bad Man’s Song,” were equally impactful. And the transitions from one song to another were so smooth that the audience had barely enough time to applaud for one before another was underway.

The sense of excitement emanating from Orzabal, co-founder Curt Smith, and the rest of the band was understandable on multiple levels. It was the first night of their first tour since 2019, and their first American tour since 2017 (get tickets here). Then there was the fact that they released their first album of new material in almost two decades earlier this year, the excellent The Tipping Point. And finally, if there was ever a time to “shout” and “let it all out,” it’s now, for better or worse.

At-home listenings of Tears for Fears are rewarding enough. Experienced live, these songs become all the richer, enhanced by moments human (Orzabal’s ad-libs during “Sowing the Seeds of Love”) and more serendipitous (a delicate wind as he sings of how “the breeze blows gently” on “Bad Man’s Song”).

Speaking with Consequence recently, the duo said this set would be their “best one yet.” Maybe someone who saw them tour Songs from the Big Chair in 1985 would disagree. But this wasn’t a “well, at least you got to see them live’” performance; it was impressive without grading on any kind of curve.

tears for fears concert review
tears for fears concert review

Tears for Fears, photo by Alexander Pirro for Riverbend Music Center

While many concertgoers likely arrived with at least one definite favorite track dating back decades (This writer’s being “spare the rod, spoil the child” anthem “Suffer the Children” — rendered here as a gorgeous ballad sung by backing vocalist Carina Round), the band made a strong case for The Tipping Point as, if not quite as great as their first two albums, no less inspired.

And there was no better example of Tears for Fears still being able to move their audience with the most unguarded of sincerity than during their debut performance of Tipping standout “Rivers of Mercy.” (“Long, Long, Long Time,” “My Demons” and “End of Night” also saw live debuts.) Seemingly everyone in attendance was seated as Orzabal — bathed in blue light — sang of metaphorical cleansing waters in a voice sounding like the missing link between Peter Gabriel and Sufjan Stevens. It’s not the go-to karaoke option, but Tears for Fears are as adept with restraint as they are with the bombastic.

On record, Orzabal and Smith have long felt wise beyond their years, able to sneak astute psychoanalysis into the catchiest synth-pop faster than you can spell “id.” But while it’s one thing to hear twenty-somethings sing of ennui and strained parent-child relationships, there’s something especially sobering about hearing these lyrics when the writers are older and their hair far less pigmented. They’ve been through some shit, including with each other.

tears for fears concert review
tears for fears concert review

Tears for Fears, photo by Alexander Pirro for Riverbend Music Center

But the striving toward self-actualization persists, even if it’s understood that the journey, not the destination, is what matters. And the harmonies hit as hard as ever, if not more so. It also doesn’t hurt that, with his long white hair and beard, Orzabal recalls that of a wizard.

If the video display during opener “No Small Thing” was any indicator, the theme of this set and perhaps of Tears for Fears entire oeuvre, was everything, uh, now. And if black-and-white images of newborn children, space travel, political protests, and crashing waves seems like a heavy-handed way to kick off a night of earworms, you’re probably right. But Orzabal and Smith never seek to proselytize or weaponize their legend status to claim intellectual superiority. One senses they show interest in so much because there’s so much to be learned, shared, and so on.

Even if Tears for Fears weren’t still performing and making great music, they would stay in our collective consciousness through their enduring influence on so many modern synth-pop acts or any artist who finds poetry in stating things as bluntly as possible. That they are able to make songs new and old alike feel so special both on record and live is truly remarkable.

Familiar? Yes, but still plenty satisfying and full of welcome surprises. Worn out? Never.

tears for fears concert review
tears for fears concert review

Tears for Fears, photo by Alexander Pirro for Riverbend Music Center

Tears for Fears next play Cleveland, OH at the Blossom Music Center tonight (May 21st). Tickets for that show, and for the rest of tour, are available via Ticketmaster.

Setlist:
No Small Thing
The Tipping Point
Everybody Wants to Rule the World
Secret World
Sowing the Seeds of Love
Long, Long, Long Time
Break the Man
My Demons
Rivers of Mercy
Mad World
Suffer the Children
Woman in Chains
Badman’s Song
Pale Shelter
Break It Down Again
Head Over Heels / Broken

Encore:
End of Night
Change
Shout

Tears For Fears 2022 Tour Dates:
05/21 – Cleveland, OH @ Blossom Music Center ^
05/24 – Dallas, TX @ The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory ^
05/27 – Phoenix, AZ @ Ak-Chin Pavilion ^
05/29 – Denver, CO @ Levitt Pavilion ^
06/01 – Concord, CA @ Concord Pavilion ^
06/02 – Mountain View, CA @ Shoreline Amphitheatre ^
06/04 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Forum ^
06/05 – San Diego, CA @ North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre ^
06/09 – West Palm Beach, FL @ iTHINK Financial Amphitheatre ^
06/10 – Tampa, FL @ MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheater ^
06/12 – Atlanta, GA @ Ameris Bank Amphitheatre ^
06/13 – Charlotte, NC @ PNC Music Pavilion ^
06/15 – Detroit, MI @ DTE Energy Music Theatre ^
06/16 – Chicago, IL @ Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre ^
06/17 – Indianapolis, IN @ Ruoff Music Center ^
06/19 – Columbia, MD @ Merriweather Post Pavilion ^
06/21 – Philadelphia, PA @ TD Pavilion at The Mann ^
06/22 – Boston, MA @ Leader Bank Pavilion ^
06/24 – Holmdel, NJ @ PNC Bank Arts Center ^
06/25 – Wantagh, NY @ Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theate ^

^ = w/ Garbage

Tears for Fears Debut Four New Songs Live at 2022 Tour Kickoff: Review, Photos and Setlist
Mimi Kenny

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