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21 Aug, Wednesday
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Tears for Fears - 3Arena Dublin

Review: Tears For Fears – 3Arena, Dublin

The Luas (Dublin’s cross-city tram) is packed this evening and as it gets closer to the 3Arena, tightly-packed arms and faces have no choice but to rest uncomfortably in the back of someone’s squishy anorak. The odd few who want to get off before the final stop fight their way tooth and claw through eager Tears For Fears fans who are quite early tonight, given that the main act won’t take to the stage until 8:30pm at the earliest. We’re sardined here at 7pm and in all likelihood it’s because the support act is as famous as the headliner.

Alison Moyet takes to the stage amid vertical blue beams of light which illustrate powerfully electronic set-starter ‘I Germinate’. Then chattily thanks us “for coming to this part of the set”, shattering the intimidating illusion she creates. She introduces ‘Nobody’s Diary’ as a song she wrote when she was 16 and it holds up incredibly, compared to most teenage efforts.

The cacophonous snarl of ‘Beautiful Gun’ breaks things up a little but this audience become more emotional the more familiar a song is. ‘All Cried Out’ creates a murmur of approval. The slick choreography takes a break during ‘Only You’ where Moyet is an arm-swinging schoolgirl again.

‘The Rarest Birds’ from latest album Other is anthemic and the audience know they’ve seen something special: how often does an audience shout “We love you!” to a support act? She stands cold and defiant for ‘Love Resurrection’ but knows she has us, as she leaves her grin is as wide as the spotlight she stands in.

An ominous building synth, a snap and darkness. Lorde’s pouting voice fills the arena; it’s her cover of ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’. There’s an amused ripple of recognition and at this stage, there’s only one song Tears For Fears can start with. It’s met with joy, but fairweather fans feel the nerves that the band they’re here to see just played their biggest hit first. The nerves are unfounded: it’s a night of half-remembered melodies and joyous reunions with old favourites, especially as the band haven’t been to Ireland since 2005. ‘Sowing The Seeds Of Love’ proceeds through all its movements, a strong vein of ‘Mr. Blue Sky’ running through.

Bassist and vocalist Curt Smith announces that they’re going to dedicate a section to their first album – 1983’s The Hurting – and there’s an audible thankful sigh from the crowd. ‘Change’ brightly twangs as the on-screen visuals are a mess of scribbles and letters. The familiar clonk of ‘Mad World’ beginning brings a special moment, the keys providing the heightened drama on the red lit stage. Although Smith perhaps doesn’t have the charisma for an arms-outstretched Jesus pose at the end, the song does.

They do talk between the songs, of course: “We’ve been lucky. A lot of young artists have came along and covered our songs, probably improving them,” to which of course, the audience boos loudly. Improving? Never! But it’s a nice segue into them covering Radiohead’s ‘Creep’, atmospherically lit in green. A gentle lullaby, with none of the crunching guitars of the original. But it shows off guitarist and vocalist Roland Orzabal’s voice, and the voices of the audience, who try as they might, aren’t quite skilled enough at singing along to the jazz-prog fusion that ends a lot of the other songs. This is their chance to let loose and it’s a uniting moment.

‘Advice For The Young At Heart’ bobs along like a hazy summer day with Smith’s gentler vocals perfect for wistfulness. ‘Bad Man’s Song’ is a marked change into blues. It gives backing singer Katrina a chance to really shine, although her sound is muffled. There’s an extended breakdown in the middle which is only for the hardiest but Orzabal brings attention back with a little acapella falsetto. The opening chimes of ‘Head Over Heels’ bring back any lost audience attention, the entire crowd fully present and it’s like we’re in every ’80s movie ever.

For the encore, an audience who know what’s coming start to sing ‘Shout’ to the band, who break into ‘Woman In Chains’ instead. Nothing like a little red herring. But we all know what they’ll end with and they shout at us as we shout back, audience fists raised as the visuals are a screaming red mouth and the word ‘Shout’ in capital letters, as if we don’t know what to do. We know.

Spoken word poet and singer from Belfast, Northern Ireland.