×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Concert Review: Head Over Heels for Tears for Fears, Hall and Oates at Staples Center

At a certain point in a band’s long and winding career, there’s a tendency to stop critiquing the way they sound now and focus instead on the nostalgia they evoke through the experience of being at one of their concerts — that collective emotional and atmospheric journey that becomes as much a part of the performance as the performance itself. Not every band, and not every artist, of course, but with Tears for Fears, the synth-pop-duo-turned-mainstream-pop-rock hit-making machine founded in 1980s Bath, England, by Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, the general expectation as they hit the Staples Center stage Thursday night was that they would sound pretty decent, perhaps, but not especially great.

But Tears for Fears, a band who plucked its name, as well as the title for its seminal anthem “Shout,” from Arthur Janov’s primal scream therapy, defied any mediocre expectations during their 1½-hour set. The first half of a double-billing date with Darryl Hall and John Oates was rescheduled from July and wraps up a 29-city summer tour, rocking their unique marriage of 1960s psychedelia and infectiously moody quasi-Beatles’ inspired British new wave.

“Thank you for being the babies you were, thank you for being the children you were, thank you for being the teen that you were,” Smith told the crowd, comprising mostly graying middle-age folk, as well as the occasional sullen tween standing in line for slushies at the concession stand. (’70s heartthrob Leif Garret was seated in the row in front of me.) “And thank you for being the adults you have become.”

The band opened with “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” a song I distinctly recall echoing loudly throughout the house I lived in sophomore year at Cornell, with its Greek letters on the wall and bathroom mirrors streaked with zit cream. But, on Thursday night, Tears for Fears made “Everybody” fresh and alive again (if not politically relevant) along with a slew of its other monster hits, from “Sowing the Seeds of Love,” “Head Over Heels” and “Mad World,” another track that felt aptly au courant.

Smith and Orzabal kept their self-effacing humor intact throughout the night, particularly during a technological fumble — “that’s what you call a professional f—-up,” quipped Orzabal — but also proved themselves as seriously soulful auteurs, performing a sultry and dark cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” that, honest to God, was almost as spiritual and moving as the original.

Turning their own original tracks into contemporized tunes that resonated just as deeply with the younger generation on hand as the old timers, co-headliners Hall & Oates launched into reliable favorites like “Out of Touch,” “Say It isn’t So” and “One on One,” but did so with a stirring bluesy-jazz-funk twist thanks in large part to their stellar back-up musicians, including Shane Theriot (lead guitar, vocals); Brian Dunne (drums); Porter Carroll (percussion, vocals); Eliot Lewis (keyboard, vocals); Klyde Jones (bass, vocals); and Charlie “Mr. Casual” DeChant, whose wailing saxophone solo on “I Can’t Go for That” elevated the performance to near-apotheotic dimensions.

With such a vast catalog of crowd-pleasers, I sometimes wonder why Hall and Oates bothers with “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” a song they covered on their 1980 album “Voices,” and one they revere as one of the “greatest rock and roll songs of all time,” but that, to me, forever feels perfectly adequate, if in a schmaltzy bar mitzvah band sort of way, regardless of who performs it. It’s a tune that turns a concert into karaoke. But it’s a tiny price to pay for everything else the Philadelphia-born duo gave at Staples. The highlight was a lush, gorgeously rendered rendition of the 1976 Grammy-winning “Sara Smile,” which featured Hall at a baby grand piano (bathed in stage lights) and an extended guitar solo that captured everything magic about the original era in which that song first rose to fame, as well as all that’s dazzling in American music today.

More Music

  • Mandy Moore

    Mandy Moore Opens Up About Her Marriage to Ryan Adams: ‘I Was So Sad’

    Mandy Moore opened up about her marriage to Ryan Adams on Monday’s episode of Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast. While the interview was taped before the publication of the Feb. 13 New York Times report in which multiple women, including Moore, accuse Adams of sexual misconduct or emotionally abusive behavior, she speaks freely about the “unhealthy dynamic” in [...]

  • Ashley Tisdale

    Ashley Tisdale Signs With ICM Partners

    ICM Partners has signed singer and actress Ashley Tisdale for representation worldwide for music. Tisdale, best known for her role as Sharpay Evans in the Disney franchise “High School Musical,” will be represented at the agency by a team led by Mike Hayes. She is managed by Red Light’s Sarah Jabbari and Jonathan Shank. Tisdale’s music [...]

  • Queen + Adam Lambert perform at

    Queen to Perform at Oscars

    Queen will perform at the Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday, the Motion Picture Academy announced on social media today. The move, which is not completely a surprise, comes in the wake of the blockbuster success of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the biopic about the band and its late singer, Freddie Mercury. The band now performs under the [...]

  • R. Kelly

    Grand Jury Reportedly Convened in R. Kelly Case

    UPDATED: A grand jury has been convened in Cook County, Illinois, in connection with new allegations against singer R. Kelly, CNN reports, citing two sources close to the case. The latest round of accusations against the singer — who has allegations of sexual misconduct against him dating back 25 years, although he has never been [...]

  • 21 Savage

    21 Savage Talks Possible Deportation, Grammys in New Interview

    After being arrested on Feb. 3 for a visa violation, Atlanta-based rapper 21 Savage — whom few people knew was actually a U.K. citizen — spent 10 highly publicized days in ICE detention before being released on Wednesday. The following day, the New York Times sat down with him for an interview in which the [...]

  • SAN FRANCISCO, CA - February 16

    San Francisco Symphony Ushers in Chinese New Year With Glitzy Gala

    As legend has it: among the Chinese Zodiac’s 12 animals, the pig comes last because it was the final one to arrive to a party thrown by the Jade Emperor — lazy sauntering being a characteristic trait of the animal. The folktale was perhaps less fitting this past Saturday evening, as the San Francisco Symphony [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content