CONCERT REVIEW: Tears for Fears finds relevancy, vibrancy in 2022

Tears for Fears attacked the new material from "The Tipping Point" with verve and urgency Sunday night June 12, 2022 at Ameris Bank Amphitheatre in Alpharetta. SUPRIA KUPPUSWAMY

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Tears for Fears attacked the new material from "The Tipping Point" with verve and urgency Sunday night June 12, 2022 at Ameris Bank Amphitheatre in Alpharetta. SUPRIA KUPPUSWAMY

Curt Smith of Tears for Fears told the sold-out crowd at Ameris Bank Ampitheatre in Alpharetta about how long it took the band to record its latest album, which involved firing their label and basically recording “The Tipping Point” on their own terms.

“We were told we were a heritage band,” he said. “That’s tantamount to us having nothing more to say. We have plenty [expletive] to say! We are 60. We’re older, wiser.” He paused and his bandmate Roland Orzabal added, “Sexier!”

Smith chuckled, “Slightly sexier.”

The British duo’s biggest U.S. success came 37 years ago with two consecutive No. 1 hits, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and “Shout.” They were just 23 and have aged accordingly. Sexier? You be the judge. Orzabal’s long dark flowing locks from the videos and album covers of yore are now all white, making him look like a mildly nutty professor. Smith’s features have become more angular, his once boyish face now a study in living life with all its jagged twists and turns.

Their new music is also more contemplative, less anthemic. But the band tackled the challenge with verve and urgency, playing seven cuts from the new album during the 19-song set. And without apology and with a touch of temerity, they played four consecutive cuts from the latest album at one point and didn’t cause a massive bathroom and beer break exodus.

From the weary sadness of “Long, Long, Long Time” to a pointed critique of patriarchy in “Break the Man” to the grand industrial club feel of “My Demons” to the evocatively atmospheric “Rivers of Mercy,” the quartet of songs resonated with the Gen X-heavy audience.

They even included a fresh cut “End of Night” during the encore, a time when most bands cart out their biggest hits and a cover or two. (Tears for Fears played no covers this time around.)

This didn’t mean Smith and Orzabal ignored their hits, because while they don’t see themselves as a heritage band, they have plenty of heritage to celebrate. “Sowing the Seeds of Love,” “Head Over Heels” and “Break it Down Again” were dutifully represented and the vocals of both men remain fairly unfettered by age.

The band also gave a spotlight to Atlanta back-up singer Lauren Evans, who provided what were Oleta Adams’ vocals on the emotive “Woman in Chains” and bluesy “The Badman’s Song” from the 1989 album “The Seeds of Love.” She also sang “Suffer the Children” as a solo act in Orzabal’s place and received a well-deserved extended standing ovation for her work.

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Roland Orzabal, 60, showed plenty of vocal range and vibrancy during the Tears for Fears concert at Ameris Bank Amphitheatre in Alpharetta June 12, 2022. RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Credit: RODNEY

Roland Orzabal, 60, showed plenty of vocal range and vibrancy during the Tears for Fears concert at Ameris Bank Amphitheatre in Alpharetta June 12, 2022. RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Credit: RODNEY

Combined ShapeCaption
Roland Orzabal, 60, showed plenty of vocal range and vibrancy during the Tears for Fears concert at Ameris Bank Amphitheatre in Alpharetta June 12, 2022. RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Credit: RODNEY

Credit: RODNEY

Smith, in a previous interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, noted that their first album, 1983′s “The Hurting,” has received surprisingly strong reception from younger generations even though none of the cuts made an impact at the time stateside. So on Sunday night, the band actually played more songs from “The Hurting” than their most popular one “Songs From the Big Chair” including “Pale Shelter,” “Change” and “Mad World,” its still relevant tune popularized by Gary Jules in 2001 for the film “Donnie Darko.”

Orzabal may look grizzled but he was full of gratitude all night. He opened the show and ended the show with the same line: “Without you, we are nothing!”

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Roland Orzabal of Tears for Fears with new back-up singer Lauren Evans from Atlanta during "The Badman's Song" at Ameris Bank Ampihtheatre in Alpharetta June 12, 2022. RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Credit: RODNEY HO@

Roland Orzabal of Tears for Fears with new back-up singer Lauren Evans from Atlanta during "The Badman's Song" at Ameris Bank Ampihtheatre in Alpharetta June 12, 2022. RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Credit: RODNEY HO@

Combined ShapeCaption
Roland Orzabal of Tears for Fears with new back-up singer Lauren Evans from Atlanta during "The Badman's Song" at Ameris Bank Ampihtheatre in Alpharetta June 12, 2022. RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Credit: RODNEY HO@

Credit: RODNEY HO@

Garbage, the under-rated Wisconsin band which landed its biggest hits in the late 1990s, complemented Tears for Fears as the opening band, bringing its specific brand of crunchy guitar-driven rock and lead singer Shirley Manson’s unabatedly intense persona to the stage.

The band, with memorable nuggets such as “Special,” “Stupid Girl” and “Push It,” was a big enough deal at one time to actually record a James Bond theme “The World is Not Enough” during the Pierce Brosnan era 23 years ago. Manson showed she could bring as much drama as Adele or Billie Eilish.

Manson, 55, was, in fact, in fine form vocally and her impish personality came through when she worried that the wind on stage would cause her skirt to ride up and show a bit too much of herself.

“Our generation, we don’t put our coochies out there,” she said. “I don’t want to body shame but I grew up in Scotland. I have issues with my body. That’s why I’m in a band!”

While playing “Wicked Ways,” an album cut from the 1998 album “Version 2.0,” the band honored the recently deceased Andy Fletcher of Depeche Mode by inserting a bit of “Personal Jesus” into the song, acknowledging the similar drum patterns. “This one,” she said, “goes right back to him in the heavens!”

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Garbage's Shirley Manson was in fine form as the opener for Tears for Fears Sunday, June 12, 2022 at Ameris Bank Amphitheatre in Alpharetta. RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Credit: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Garbage's Shirley Manson was in fine form  as the opener for Tears for Fears Sunday, June 12, 2022 at Ameris Bank Amphitheatre in Alpharetta. RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Credit: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Combined ShapeCaption
Garbage's Shirley Manson was in fine form as the opener for Tears for Fears Sunday, June 12, 2022 at Ameris Bank Amphitheatre in Alpharetta. RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Credit: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Credit: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com