Tears for Fears, formed in Bath at a time when you could call your band after primal therapy practise and get away with it, are not the most prolific band to take their place on the 80s nostalgic circuit. No touring and recording treadmill for them – they last played Glasgow in the mid-2000s, around the release of their most recent album, Everybody Loves a Happy Ending, and have been working on a sequel ever since.
Tears for Fears & Alison Moyet, Hydro, Glasgow ****
No works in progress tonight though; rather, a sense of tight, sometimes slick perfectionism and also a blatant (and warranted) confidence in dispensing with two of their best known anthems, Everybody Wants to Rule the World and the epic Sowing the Seeds of Love, at the start of their set. Whether despite or because of its blatant Beatles influence, the latter was a particularly fine, sophisticated production, allowing both co-frontmen Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith to flaunt their falsettos.
The pair were the picture of healthy (wealthy?) rock stars. Orzabal, the one constant in the band across almost forty years, was the showier of the two, vocally and as a stage presence. Early single Pale Shelter proved a good vehicle for Smith’s lighter tones, while the melodramatic synth pop of Change showcased their capacity for marrying strong melodies with ambitious arrangements from their earliest days.
A number of other tracks were harvested from their 1983 debut album The Hurting (the first ever purchased by this writer), whose moments of gauche pretension Smith tried to characterise it as good old-fashioned teen angst. The best of these was gothic pop classic Mad World with its synth counterpoints and percussive hooks still sounding rather exotic.
Songs from their later catalogue were blander and more bloated. Backing vocalist Carina Round, a recording artist in her own right, stepped forward to lead capably on the sub-Roxy Music MOR snooze of Woman in Chains, but they needed the indulgent goodwill of the crowd to sustain them through the cosmetic country blues of Badman’s Song before pulling it back with two hits of prime pop bombast, Head Over Heels and Shout.
There was value added support from special guest Alison Moyet, a cherished peer, making the most of her synth pop heritage not just across Yazoo hits such as Situation, Only You and Don’t Go but also in new retro electro pop renditions of her solo soul pop numbers.