Review and photos by Jennie Book
On a blazing hot July evening in Wheatland, CA, the Toyota Amphitheater was packed to the brim with eager fans ready to dive into a time warp of music. Tears For Fears took the stage with a lineup that’s been touring together for years: Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith out in front, Charlton Pettus on guitar, Jamie Wollam full force driving the drums, Carina Round on backing vocals, and Doug Petty on keys. Their chemistry was undeniable, super solid from playing shows around the world with this lineup for a decade plus, and if anybody in the crowd thought they were going to get a night of music resting on any 80s laurels they were in for a happy surprise.
The show kicked off with two new tracks from 2022’s excellent The Tipping Point album, and then the band launched into “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” which got the crowd on its feet, setting off a wave of singing along from the enthusiastic crowd. Familiar old hits like “Mad World” and “Suffer the Children” (sung beautifully by Carina Round) and “Pale Shelter” brought back waves of early 80s nostalgia from the band’s The Hurting album, but the setlist was a thoughtful and well orchestrated mix of old and new, with plenty of new Tipping Point cuts, including the live banger of a track “My Demons,” plus favorites from 1989’s Seeds of Love album, one from 2004’s Everybody Loves A Happy Ending, and the perennial favorite “Break It Down Again” from Roland Orzabal’s solo efforts which is glorious to experience live. But the most masterful song of the night award went to “Badman’s Song” from Seeds of Love, which came in at over eight minutes long and is a magnum opus of singing and drumming, and was a testament to the band’s cohesive brilliance.
For the final dates of this tour the band added Radiohead’s “Creep” to the encore lineup, thrilling many and making others pout – mostly because the Tears For Fears catalog is deep and some fans would rather hear something that originated from Roland Orzabal’s brain rather than Thom Yorke’s. The set finished each night of the tour with “Shout,” everyone’s perennial favorite, and with Roland soloing on guitar and the entire crowd on its feet singing and yelling about letting it all out (and here we are at this tipping point in society where let’s face it we could all use some shouting catharsis – where are you now when we need you most, Dr. Janov?) it was the perfect ending to a great evening of live music.
Tears For Fears has a way with bridging generations (lots of kids in the crowd, lots of of grandparents too) and uniting fans through timeless, meaningful lyrics and body moving music is their specialty. They’ll never go out of style, they’ll always give a crowd of fans what they want, and for the good of music and mankind let’s all hope they keep touring forever.