–by Laura Tucker
Back on the road, with “The Tipping Point Part II Tour”, Tears for Fears fans got a chance to experience the iconic duo Thursday night at Hollywood Casino Amphitheater.
Formed in Bath, England in 1981, Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith have been creating music for 42 years. They started as a ska band and morphed into the more suiting, new wave group producing music that we can all find in our live’s soundtracks.
But before they begin, we must first introduce Cold War Kids. The five piece Indie-alternative band from California has been around for quite sometime but finding mainstream accolades and airplay with the rise of their most notable or recognizable song, “First” (Flying Like a Cannonball) which was released in 2014 and found topping the charts in 2015. It can’t possibly that long ago that it could be heard on nearly every rock/pop station, can it?
Members Nathan Willett (vocals), Matt Maust (bass), Joe Plummer (drums), Matthew Schwartz (keys) and David Quan (guitar) played their set in a low-key kind of way working in “Hang Me Up to Dry” but saving “First” for last. Nathan did take a moment to express gratitude for being on tour with Tears for Fears.
Around 9:00 pm, the sun was gone and the massive vortex-like apparatus on stage would become our only source of light. The colors of orange and pink set the mood and they kicked off the show with “No Small Thing”. This night would be just that. Song number three is one of those iconic tunes reminding us that, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”. From the first notes, you are transported back to the 80’s. A time when the guys on stage had curly brown hair and an earring in just one ear. They rode that new wave and cranked out hits that we all know and love.
Like “Sowing the Seeds of Love”. While a floral scene sets the stage, the vocals harmonize and overlap to create a political message of inspiration. Their lyrics are as relevant today as they were 35 years ago.
Unlike some in the audience, my knowledge of the band stops with the mainstream hits but many were true fans and sang along to nearly everything, like, “Badman” which sounded completely different. With an almost country vibe, the drummer, guitar and keyboards got a chance to just jam a little. It seemed to go on forever and the crowd loved it!. The massive, circular screen that looks like a magic-mirror was at times, lit in a swirl pattern that sort of simulated the sun.
For this tour Tears for Fears is made up of Jamie Wollamm (drums), Charlton Pettus (guitar), Doug Petty (piano/keys) and of course, Roland and Curt. Special guest, Carina Round of Puscifer, provided backup for the duration of the night but also got to step into the spotlight for “Woman in Chains” and “Suffer the Children”. During this number, the screen was still with the child sitting, head in hands, as depicted on the band’s freshman album, The Hurting. Her vocals, were haunting and the crowd… silent.
Bright white lights wake us up and the video changes to a scene where people look like marching ants in a maze for “Break the Man” One thing about these guys is their ability to keep a note hanging or fill a gap with something interesting. Their vocals are so well suited for each other and just like in any successful band, create something truly special when brought together.
True to St. Louis style, the night was hot and muggy but by now, it’s slightly cooler and a steady breeze from the massive fans above seems to have a little mercy on us. It wasn’t a sold out show so a few empty seats sprinkled throughout the amphitheater was nice on a hot night.
While the duo has aged over the years, their sound remains youthful and diverse. There were quite a few kids and families in attendance. Maybe the parents couldn’t find sitters or maybe, just maybe, they are preparing the next generation to appreciate the music that we loved. Passing the new wave torch. The kids seem to be enjoying it for the most part. I asked a few of them throughout the night if they liked the show. They all said “yes”.
As the evening drew to close, we were treated to “Head Over Heels” and “Break it Down Again”.
Roland did take a minute to talk about what he called “lockdown number one” and then “lockdown number two” He spoke about the feelings created by the pandemic. Rage, protest and forgiveness! I have no doubt the impact that this experience has had on the future of music. It’s hard to escape the mention of it at a live show these days. As we go about our business and enjoy the gathering in numbers, it’s almost hard to remember how intense it really was.
After the encore, we got three more songs. One of which was “Creep”. Yes, by Radiohead. And last but not least, the sound of something similar to a chopstick on a glass bottle in a pattern that we all recognized instantly, “Shout”. This is the epitome of filling of gaps with something interesting. They are also really great at filling the lyrics with substance disguised as entertainment. “They gave you life, and in return you gave them hell”. A sneaky reminder for all generations.
I have been absolutely thrilled to cover the shows that I never got to see and this was one for the books.
Tears For Fears Setlist:
No Small Thing
The Tipping Point
Everybody Wants to Rule the World
Sowing the Seeds of Love
Long, Long, Long Time
Break the Man
Rivers of Mercy
Suffer the Children (sung by Carina Round)
Woman in Chains (with Carina Round)
Badman’s Song (with Carina Round)
Break It Down Again
Head Over Heels/Broken
Creep (Radiohead cover)