Tears for Fears deliver the goods at the Chumash

September 22, 2011


When you think of specific decades for anything whether it’s music, sports or movies, certain names immediately come to mind.

For the big hair, synth-pop, techno-beat post-punk, post-new wave 1980s, it would be difficult to find a more quintessential decade-defining band than Tears for Fears.

And last week at the Chumash Casino, the British synth-pop group co-founded and co-fronted by Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith dazzled the nearly sold-out crowd with their unique songs and arrangements.

No other band of that era typifies both the upbeat, innocent vibe with neurotic, depressing song lyrics and melodies as much as TFF. As such, they sum up the promise and the angst of their generation better than just about any other rock band.

And having great songs and the big talent to perform them doesn’t hurt either.

TFF kicked off the festive evening in Santa Ynez with “Everyone Wants to Rule the World” from their 1985 smash album “Songs from the Big Chair.” While no longer recording or regularly touring together, Orzabal and Smith meshed wonderfully on stage, whether reaching into their more obscure song archive or busting out fan favorites like “Sowing the Seeds of Love.”

While certainly not as prolific as many musical duos in the rock world, they penned a few memorable hit tunes together with Orzabal the more prolific songwriter. As lead singer on most songs, the British native of Spanish descent is clearly the “sound” of the band, especially with his distinctive, booming vocals. But it’s Smith who eloquently sings Orzabals’ haunting “Mad World,” the one TFF song that is constantly covered by other bands and most used in TV and movies.

Throw in a taut backing band and an excellent sound mix and you were delivered a powerhouse 95-minute show that offered a perfect mix of deep tracks and major hits, all of which TFF played. There were a few awkward moments with the crowd and between the two leads but they kept the banter to a minimum and mostly focused on the music.

Playing two other numbers from their initial album “The Hurting,” the underrated but catchy early 90s song “Break it Down Again” and concluding with “Head Over Heels” and “Shout,” Tears for Fears left no doubt they are still an iconic, relevant group and not just another washed up, nostalgia act.

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You couldn’t pay me to go to a Tears For Fears gig, well you could, but it wouldn’t be cheap.

‘Shout shout let it all out..’ I would never have thought about going to a TFF concert but it sounds as if it might have been fun.