Tears for Fears review: Sad bangers from a brilliantly gloomy band

At 3Arena, the music of Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith sounds as pristine as ever


3Arena, Dublin
Tears for Fears are late. After Alison Moyet's excellent set a few of the crowd are shuffling their feet, but more because they're here on a bitter winter's night than because they're annoyed by the delay. A lot of them have waited a long time to see Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith play the songs that helped them sell 30 million albums.

Time can make fools of us – there’s a collective gasp when Smith points out that they haven’t been in Dublin since 2005, 14 years ago – but tonight it stretches out until it’s suspended, shielding us from the realities of outside and helping to make this large venue almost feel intimate.

They arrive on stage to another trick of time, the strains of Lorde's cover of Everybody Wants to Rule the World, which she contributed to the Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack. Tears for Fears released their first album in 1983, 13 years before Lorde was born, but their retrospectively unusual pop still seeps into contemporary consciousness. When covered successfully, as with Lorde's version, or with Michael Andrews and Gary Jules's take on Mad World, in 2001, there's a tendency to gravitate towards the shadows within the songs.

Tears for Fears are echoed in contemporary pop, which, like many of the band's tracks, often retreats into itself, trading on loneliness: sad bangers, as it were

Orzabal and Smith double down on the intro music, launching into Everybody Wants to Rule the World as their first song. It sounds as pristine as ever, as icy as the rain outside. It's certainly a bold move to open with your biggest tune, but that first track acts as a platter on which everything else is served. The cloche is lifted again and again – Falling Down, Head over Heels, Pale Shelter – creating remember-this-one? looks between friends.


At one stage Smith apologises for the band's tardiness – "You know, we're old. It takes us a while to get down the stairs" – before introducing Change, from their debut album, The Hurting, "for those of you old enough to remember or young enough to discover."

And that’s the thing with Tears for Fears: the songs stand up. They’re also echoed in contemporary pop, which, like many of the band’s tracks, often retreats into itself, trading on loneliness: sad bangers, as it were. It’s hard not to notice the smattering of young musicians from Irish bands in the audience.

Phones rise up when Mad World begins – proof that you can determine an audience's age by whether they mostly film in landscape or portrait. Orzabal then doubles down on their brilliant gloominess with a cover of Radiohead's Creep.

With visuals that vary from neon cartographic tracings of mountains, drizzling binary code, and the glistening of one of Yayoi Kusama's infinity mirror rooms, the place turns red when the band end their encore with Shout. Feet stomp, people scream, and then back out into the cold, dark night.