Last night, I had the pleasure of seeing Tears For Fears at the Nob Hill Masonic Auditorium here in San Francisco. It was the first time I’d ever seen Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith live as well as my inaugural visit to that venue in the city (center mezzanine, excellent sound).
The duo did not disappoint, amazingly sounding like no time had passed at all. Backed by a tight touring band and assisted on vocals by British singer-songwriter Carina Round (who opened the show with a four-song set), Messrs. Orzabal and Smith performed tracks from Tears For Fears’ six studio albums — or four, if you count the two on which Orzabal went it alone without Smith in the mid-90s as solo works. From “Change” and “Head Over Heels” to “Break It Down Again” and “Call Me Mellow,” I was reminded just how much Tears For Fears’ music has meant to me over the years.
Last night’s standout moment was reserved for a rendition of “Woman In Chains,” my absolute favorite Tears For Fears song of the ever and one that meant a great deal to me in college. I was inspired to title a final paper my freshman year after “Woman In Chains,” scoring an A+ from a well-respected literature professor. Later, a close friend who also loved the song introduced to the instrumental version, only included on the single’s promo CD. Since this was in pre-CD burner, pre-MP3s days, I sought a copy for myself so I could listen to the gorgeousness of “Woman In Chains” unfold that way endlessly too.
I didn’t come to last night’s Tears For Fears show expecting to hear “Woman In Chains.” The original version on 1989′s The Seeds Of Love was really a duet with Oleta Adams, whom Orzabal and Smith had discovered singing in a Kansas City hotel bar, and the single wasn’t much of a hit either, barely cracking the Top 40. But with Carina Round’s inclusion in the evening’s proceedings, when Tears For Fears returned to the stage for their encore, they unleashed “Woman In Chains,” and I was a very happy guy. While there’s no topping Adams’ performance, Round did do a wonderful job in her place.
Here’s the original version, which features Phil Collins on drums, whose participation I either entirely forgot about or only discovered today. Amazing.
“Shout,” which closed out the show following “Woman In Chains,” was particularly revelatory live. It might have been the subtle nuances of the performance — a more aggressive attack on drums and lead guitar — but I immediately drew a bright line connecting Tears For Fears’ 1985 #1 hit to Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer,” which followed almost a decade later.
Check out some great photos from last night’s Tears For Fears concert (including the setlist) over at Rock Subculture.