Tears for Fears
Shoreline Amphitheater, Mountain View
June 2, 2022
Photos by Raymond Ahner
Tears for Fears have been in hibernation for some time, but proved they are back and in prime form, recently landing in the bay area to play the Shoreline Amphitheater in support of The Tipping Point (released in February) which is their first studio album in nearly eighteen years.
Bucking the trend of 80s/90s hit makers that band together on nostalgia tours, playing condensed sets and leaning heavily on older hits in their collections, Tears for Fears has shown that they still have a DIY hunger for creating and playing new music for their devoted fans.
Out of the gate the band from Bath, England with founding members Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith still out front put the focus on the new material. Opening their set, they charged through two new songs, “No Small Thing” and the title track of the new album “The Tipping Point,” as the early-June sun dipped below the horizon and a warm breeze blew through the Shoreline. The fans in attendance were standing and not so surprisingly singing along.
Reception for their latest offering has been very positive both critically and from their fans, with initial feedback indicating that this is Tears for Fears’ best work since The Seeds of Love was released nearly 33 years ago (1989).
Even with that being the case, what has kept Tears for Fears relevant all these years are the hits. Roland even acknowledged that fact saying, “We’ll play some new and we’ll go back and play what many of you really want to hear.”
As soon as the cascading guitar intro of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” hit the atmosphere, the crowd erupted. Sounding every bit as strong as when they first played the song on their Songs from the Big Chair tour in 1985, the vocal interplay between Orzabal and Smith were spot on, and what is possibly the perfect 80s pop song lit up the Shoreline with cell phone lights and bright smiles.
As the set progressed, Tears for Fears’ place in contemporary music became evident. They were very much influenced by The Beatles with haunting melodies holding up bright vocal harmonies, and in turn they influenced other British bands, with their musical fingerprints all over the Manchester sound made popular by the likes of Oasis and The Stone Roses.
“Secret World” even included a mid-song departure into “Let ‘em In” by Wings, and “Sowing the Seeds of Love” is a more direct homage to Beatles psychedelia and was a high point of the performance.
One of the most unexpected highlights of the evening was the performance of backing vocalist and instrumentalist Carina Round stepping up and taking lead vocals on ‘Woman in Chains’ from The Seeds of Love (1989). It was an impactful performance that displayed the time transcendence of Tears for Fears music, especially when considering the gravity of current events surrounding women’s rights.
The closer of the set, “Shout” (Songs from the Big Chair), prompted the crowd to its feet singing in unison, in particular punctuating the lyric “Come on….I’m talking to you…come on.” Again, considering the recent and ongoing gun violence in the U.S., this seemed to be a directed message to politicians to act.
Openers on this evening were Garbage, fronted by effervescent Scottish lead singer Shirley Manson. Playing while the sun was still rather high in the sky could have been disconcerting for the band, whose songs tend to lean toward darker subject matter, but instead Garbage turned the tables and spun a brilliant 45-minute set of dark, heavy, beat driven dance rock in the late day sunshine.
Held down by the pounding metronome of drummer/producer Butch Vig, Garbage had the boisterous early crowd moving from the start, though it didn’t take much prompting. Manson owned the stage. With her shock of bright red hair, and long, shimmery silver dress, she floated back and forth across the stage.
Not only singing powerful songs like “Stupid Girl” and “Only Happy When it Rains,” she emoted the lyrics. It was almost like she was wearing the words as she delivered her vocals and pushed her band by repeatedly saying “Let’s go boys!” while whirling around like a gypsy on fire.
Strong and on-point Garbage were a perfect treat opening for Tears for Fears, and pushed the headliners with their energetic performance.