Val Kilmer has a lot to answer for. In the late 80’s, an impressionable kid of about 13 years should have been asleep, but instead I was awake and enthralled, watching Martha Coolidge’s 1985 science-nerd movie ‘Real Genius’. As child that some would describe as square, this move – starring Val as Chris Knight, the charismatic and goofy genius – captivated me with its’ unashamed celebration of nerd culture. As I huddled close to the TV in my room, I watched as the final scene exploded in all its popcorn-tastic lunacy and Tears for Fears’ Everybody Wants to Rule the World was the lead-out song that encapsulated the moment. There and then, I became a Fears’ fan for life.
Thirty years later, I realised a childhood ambition and experienced Tears for Fears live. Over the decades I heard tales of them touring the America’s extensively, whilst curiously neglecting their home turf. Little did I know that they were simply unaware of their enduring popularity. Many 80s acts have experienced a revival in recent years (Bros, Culture Club, Tiffany, to name but a few…) however Tears for Fears have endured in the true sense of the word. Their writing has been hardly prolific, even so, we’ve received a steady trickle of output throughout the 90’s and 00’s from both Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith in various guises. More recently new songs have appeared, sprinkled throughout various ‘Best Of’ collections and limited releases.
I recall my, almost giddy, excitement on securing pre-sale tickets for their Cardiff show. Originally scheduled for May 4th, 2018 the date was postponed, but not without good reason. I (along with all the other dedicated fans) had waited patiently for the rescheduled gig. And so, we found ourselves in Cardiff on a chilly Sunday night in February, full of anticipation and excitement. The queue outside the stadium as monstrous, which was surprising given that the gig was pre-allocated seating. This was, perhaps, a measure of how keenly awaited their long overdue return to the British stage had been.
First on-stage was music legend Alison Moyet. Rightfully billed as Special Guest, rather than support, she treated us to some of her beloved 80s classics, her band’s arrangements fully embracing the 80’s electronica that characterised her early work. Moyet fans were in abundance and blimey, that lady can sing! Eleven songs later, the crowd were already on their feet. Next came an interval where the stage was completely dismantled and rebuilt. There was an excited hush as the lights dimmed and Lorde’s cover of ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’ thundered out… two familiar silhouettes strolled casually into view and waved. The arena erupted.
What followed was a career-spanning set-list of 16 well-rehearsed and tightly performed classics. These were authentic reproductions, brought neatly up-to-date rather than parodying the originals. Orzabal’s direct lyrics remain as relevant today as they were in the 1980s and both Roland and Curt were in fine voice. The crowd roared ‘Everybody Want to Rule the World’ (arguably the bands greatest hit) and as we bounced along to ‘The Seeds of Love’, the lyric ‘politician granny with your high ideals, have you no idea how the majority feels?’ raised a pertinent middle finger to the state of British politics. Other hits followed, interspersed with some deeper cuts and Roland’s trademark cover of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’.
A highlight for me was the epic ‘Badman’s Song’ which gave the band an opportunity to jam and to see them relish the moment was a joy. The initial show was ended with the anthemic crescendo of ‘Head Over Heels/Broken’ and as the band left the stage, the crowd went wild… decades’ worth of joy for the eventual UK tour was being channeled towards the stage in the form of adoration, love and respect. As the applause continued, the crowd began to chant ’shout., shout, let it all out!’. After what seemed like another decade, they reappeared and launched into a soulful ‘Woman in Chains’ before ending with the requisite ‘Shout’. As the band waved farewell to the audience, they seemed humbled and even embarrassed by the display before them.
We, the children of the 70’s and 80’s, had waited a long time for Tears for Fears to grace our shores once again, and boy, were we delighted to see them. The seeds of love may have been sown in the 80’s but the fruits of Tears for Fears legacy are being enjoyed by successive generations to this day. I just hope they realise that they’re as wholesome and as relevant ever.
Video links provided with kind permission of TFF and YouTube.