Tears For Fears entertained a rapturous crowd in London last night, in an unsurprisingly packed Shepherd’s Bush Empire.
Fresh from their USA tour, and having kicked off their series of UK gigs at large outdoor venues on Friday, Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith ditched the random British weather and the big screens for one night of intimacy inside the 2000-capacity West London venue, which, as Roland reminded us during the show, they last ‘played’ when lip-syncing to ‘Sowing The Seeds of Love’ on BBC TV’s Wogan chat show in 1989 (the programme was broadcast from what was then ‘BBC Television Theatre’). A few candles and some vases of sunflowers on stage added to the homely vibe.
Last year, Curt Smith told SDE that “It was getting a little boring” playing the same old songs all the time and that “the only way to liven that up would be to maybe make some new music”. Make some new music they duly did and Smith and Orzabal are clearly reenergised by their new album The Tipping Point (released back in February), which forms the bedrock of the setlist for the 2022 tour, without sacrificing any of the classic hits for which they are known.
Opening with the acoustic/epic ‘No Small Thing’, before heading into the electronic pop of ‘The Tipping Point’, was a statement of intent, although they moved away from the new album for the third song of the evening, a little ditty you might know called ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’! If there’s one album that steps aside, in terms of the setlist, for the new songs it’s the band’s 2004/5 reunion record Everybody Loves A Happy Ending which back in 2017 they were playing a trio of numbers from (including the title track), but is now distilled down to just ‘Secret World’, which appears to be the band’s favourite from that record (although not this writer’s). In truth, ‘Happy Ending’ is always going to be the least known Curt-and-Roland TFF long-player for the non-hardcore fanbase, so it’s not a bad decision.
So accomplished are Tears For Fears at playing ‘Sowing The Seeds of Love’ live that they make it look easy. They delivered a note-perfect rendition of their complex 1989 masterpiece and the performance demonstrated that Roland’s voice can still go wherever he wants it to go (‘Woman in Chains’ and ‘Badman’s Song’, later on, underlined this).
Four more songs from The Tipping Point in a row – ‘Long, Long, Long Time’, ‘Break The Man, ‘My Demons’ and ‘Rivers of Mercy’ – are performed in exactly the same order as they are on the album, with ‘Rivers of Mercy’ proving a cool, refreshing sorbet after the spicy, pulsing synths of ‘My Demons’.
All three singles from 1983’s debut album The Hurting get an outing in the second half of the show, with ‘Mad World’ sounding very much like the album version (in past eras the band had dabbled with rearrangements) and the brilliant Lauren Evans (who is standing in for Carina Round on backing vocals) sung lead on ‘Suffer The Children’ (the band’s first single, from 1981).
We were reminded of the brilliance of ‘Break It Down Again’ (the should’ve-been-a-global-smash from 1993’s Curt-free Elemental) and ‘Head Over Heels’ always feels naked without ‘Broken’ so it’s pleasing to hear that ‘the segue’ is back! Yet another song from the new album, the appropriate ‘End of Night’ (at one point touted as a possible first single from the new album), forms part of the encore as ‘Shout’ closed the evening in emphatic style.
Tears For Fears have achieved something quite remarkable with this 2022 tour. They’ve added almost an entire new album to the setlist (album closer ‘Stay’ plays before the band walk on stage) and yet there’s not one moment where you think “this is a good time to pop to the bar”. That’s testament to just how great The Tipping Point is and demonstrates what fans who have bought it already know – that the album is genuinely on a par with their best work.
Tears For Fears continue their UK tour tonight, at Waddesdon Manor, in Aylesbury. Book tickets for one of the dates.
Tears For Fears
- 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
(Vocal by Lauren Evans)
- Woman in Chains
- Badman’s Song
- Pale Shelter
- Break It Down Again
- Head Over Heels / Broken
- End of Night