Concert Review: Tears For Fears

Posted on: July 19, 2023
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tears for fears

By Stefny At The Disco

According to, Monday’s Tears For Fears stint at the Moody Center was only their FIFTH time in Austin – the last being 6 years ago. It’s also only the second at a venue that still exists, although since this is less than a year old, that’s probably cheating.

At 9:00pm on the dot, the band came onstage and launched into the first song from their latest album, 2022’s The Tipping Point, “No Small Thing.” If you haven’t seen the duo since the 80s, you may be shocked at their current appearance. Singer/bassist Curt Smith has close-cropped light hair, while singer/guitarist Roland Orzabal now sports white hair past his shoulders and a beard.

TFF in 1985 (credit: Rolling Stone)
TFF in 2022 (credit: The New York Times)

Then came the title track, “The Tipping Point.” Full disclosure: I had this song on repeat for like 2 solid months when it came out, so I am biased, but I believe it really showcases just how solid their songwriting and musicianship still are. The song was inspired by the declining health and eventual death of Roland’s wife Caroline, to whom he had been married since 1982.

Next up was “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” off the seminal 1985 record Songs From The Big Chair. Easily 90% of the audience had their phones out for this song. And for good reason, because it was epic. Both vocalists still sound just as great as they did when they were 24, and if you closed your eyes, you could be immediately transported to their first show in Austin at City Coliseum.

After the song was over, Roland took the opportunity to speak. He mentioned their last stop here in 2017 and “thank God” they were playing inside tonight. He spoke briefly about their new album and how it took a long time but was worth it.

From here they played “Secret World” from 2004’s Everybody Loves a Happy Ending, during which I definitely HEARD a trumpet, but there was no trumpet. During the song, Roland gave a shout-out to lead guitarist Charlton Pettus, who is also credited as a songwriter on many of their newer tracks.

Following 1989’s “Sowing The Seeds of Love,” an anti-Margaret Thatcher anthem (which also features an invisible trumpet!), were three new songs in a row. “We’re going to play some songs in a row from the new album with accompanying videos,” said Roland. “If you’re curious about them you can go to our YouTube channel in the privacy of your own house and try to figure out what the fuck they’re about.” The songs were “Long, Long, Long Time,” “Break The Man (whose backing video reminded me A LOT of the opening to “Severance“),” and “My Demons.” If you happen to figure out the meaning of any of these videos, please let me know. Nonsensical backing videos aside, all of these songs were bops. They also played “Rivers of Mercy,” also on the new record, but it evidently didn’t make the cut for crazy visuals.

Roland interjects again briefly to tell the band’s history. The two of them have been making music together since they were 14 years old (they’re on the cusp of 62 now). The first band they were in was heavy metal (the 1976 version of heavy metal) and Roland thought he was Jimmy Page (he showcased this by playing the “Stairway To Heaven” intro). But then, Curt bought a single by The Damned, so then they thought they’d try being punk. Spoiler alert: it didn’t work out so well. But then, a friend offered them the use of a recording studio that contained synths and a drum machine. And thus, Tears For Fears was born. He also remarked about their great haircuts and high-waisted trousers.

Was he referring to these haircuts? Because yowza. (credit: Virginia Turbett/Redferns)

Speaking of haircuts and trousers, they launched into “Mad World,” where the original music video played on the screen behind them. At some points, a forlorn 24-year-old Curt looks out over the stage. Let him out. He needs help.

The next three songs showcased backing vocalist Carina Round. “Suffer The Children” from 1983’s The Hurting was an entirely solo endeavor, while she was featured on “Woman In Chains” and “Bad Man’s Song,” both from 1989’s The Seeds of Love, along with Roland.

Another certified banger from The Hurting, “Pale Shelter,” was next. I also learned just now researching this that it was prominently sampled by The Weeknd in the song “Secrets” and now I need to go listen to that, brb.

1993’s “Break It Down Again” followed, and then it was party time. No one in the audience could be accused of being uncommitted to Sparkle Motion once “Head Over Heels” began. After the instrumental “Broken” segue, the band played their short game of peekaboo.

When they reemerged, Roland posed the question “Are you still weird though?” He certainly leaned into the weird as they played a cover of Radiohead’s “Creep.” In my humble opinion, they should consider releasing that. It was incredible.

Last but certainly not least was “Shout.” And what a way to end the night! Standing in a room with thousands of people singing every word, plus Roland’s guitar solo! Who can beat that?

In conclusion, this was an all-around excellent show. I loved the stage design with the round lighting rigs (and when there was nothing on the screen, it looked like a trampoline), the visuals were engaging, and of course, the performances were outstanding. I really hope to see them again, and I hope they don’t wait 6 more years to come back.