Earlier this week I had the pleasure of seeing a band that I have been obsessed with for just about 30 years. That band is Tears for Fears. My affection with them goes far beyond just liking the many chart-topping, radio-friendly hits they’ve put out through the years. I’ve always loved their thought-provoking lyrics and the feelings and experiences they sang about spoke to me, even as a teenager. They’re pretty deep, these guys.
I have a long
history obsession with this band. Growing up, I think I bought just about every teen magazine that made mere mention of them and I did everything from joining their fan club to buying every rare 12-inch single and 45 record that they put out (despite having the songs on cassette anyway). And I remember the first time I saw them play live in 1985, at Cobo Hall in Detroit, Michigan. My parents had surprised me and my two good friends Traci and Julie, with tickets to the show. After screaming and jumping up and down, three 13-year olds started planning what to wear to the concert and how exactly we’d to try to attract the attention of our favorite band member from our third-balcony seats. We screamed some more and blasted TFF music on the car ride from Toledo, Ohio to Detroit and I don’t think we had any voice left when the night was over. Good times.
Then and now. Check out the price of that 1985 ticket!
Fast-forward a few decades, and these guys are still rocking. Despite not releasing much new material in the last 10 years, the band still does mini-tours every so often, sometimes playing at vineyards and county fairs, and sometimes smaller theater venues. This past week, they were back at it, playing one of their favorite venues in Los Angeles, the Wiltern Theater.
The Wiltern is a small, beautiful, Art Deco space that offers a much more intimate concert experience than the bigger outdoor arenas in the area and I love it when Tears for Fears plays there. I think they do too, from all the positive comments they make during their shows about the venue and Los Angeles itself. Despite originally being from England, all but one band member lives in LA now, so it’s much more like playing a hometown crowd for them, and it shows.
There’s something about going to a concert where you feel totally at home with the people surrounding you. I felt like I was seeing the show with a bunch of old pals. I went to this concert solo (as I have before – hey, babysitters are expensive!) and 40-somethings like myself from all walks of life were present, reminiscing about the time they saw them back in the 80s, discussing their personal favorite songs – it was like I never grew up. Feeling the crowd get as excited about recognizing the first chords of an old fan favorite and having a sold out crowd sing along with me to tunes I used to belt out in the car while driving to school – there was no better feeling.
And I use the term “old” lovingly. Because, let’s face it. It HAS been 30 years. That never was more evident than when my favorite member of the band, Curt Smith – the one I had a crush on when I was 13 years old – gave a shout out to his 12 and 15 year old daughters who were in the audience. Ouch. But I just call that a testament to the long-standing impact they’ve had on music through the years. They are still crafting relevant, catchy tunes, still selling out venues, and as long as they do, I’ll be listening from the audience.
Some highlights of the night:
My dead-center seats in the second row of the third balcony (seriously, seat 208 if you ever see a show at The Wiltern) and the plus of having no one sit in row A, directly in front of me. Not sure how I lucked out on that one, but I had an unobstructed view all evening.
Sitting next to two guys who hilariously recounted all manner of teenage memories associated with whatever song started to play next. You’d think this would be annoying, but since I had some of the same memories, it wasn’t. I chuckled and nodded right along with them.
Waiting all night to hear some of my favorites (Woman in Chains and Break it Down Again) only to be completely elated when they decided to play my second all-time-favorite-ever TFF song, Songs from the Big Chair‘s The Working Hour, which I have not personally heard live since 1985. It’s a nearly 7-minute, lush, jazzy sax piece. And since they don’t typically have a sax player in the band, it’s impossible for them to play live. But for the LA crowd, they changed it up. It was an amazing performance. And the crowd went wild.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the band’s last encore of the night, Shout. Sure, you’ve heard it a million times, sure it might be a tad overplayed, but you can’t deny its place in 80s music history and it always gets the crowd on their feet. The energy in the room was palpable. And who could not love Curt’s youngest daughter coming up onstage (as they always do at the LA shows), to sing the song right along with the band, reminiscent of their iconic video.
Here’s to another 30 years of playing great music, guys. You still rock in my book.