Iconic '80s band Tears for Fears joins Hall & Oates for Allstate show

  • Iconic 1980s pop band Tears for Fears will perform Monday, May 15, at Rosemont's Allstate Arena as part of a double-bill that also features Hall & Oates.

    Iconic 1980s pop band Tears for Fears will perform Monday, May 15, at Rosemont's Allstate Arena as part of a double-bill that also features Hall & Oates. Courtesy of Tears for Fears

 
 
Updated 5/10/2017 12:24 PM

It's been more than 30 years since new wave/pop band Tears for Fears conquered the world with the monstrously successful record "Songs From the Big Chair," but don't call them an oldies act.

Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal, the longtime friends who lead the band, are preparing to release a new album this summer, and Smith says their creative energy is as vital as ever.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We have a different kind of angst now, of course," Smith said during a recent telephone interview. "We're both getting older, our children are starting to leave home. But I can say that I'm just as passionate a songwriter now in my 50s as I was in my 20s. But instead of talking about the general kind of angst that I felt as a teenager, I'm writing about more specific issues."

The as-yet-untitled new record will come out after Tears for Fears finishes a North American tour with fellow '80s heroes Hall & Oates. That tour brings them to Rosemont's Allstate Arena on Monday, May 15.

Smith said he hopes that the band can preview some of the new material during the tour.

"We're still working that out," he said. "As you know, as soon as you play something, it winds up on the internet, so there is some concern. But I do hope we can play a few of those songs."

Tears for Fears were part of what rock critics sometimes call "the Second British Invasion" -- a slew of British bands popular with U.S. audiences during the fashion-conscious, MTV-dominated 1980s. The band's first album, "The Hurting," came out in 1983. As a result of the record's moody, synth-laden singles "Mad World" and "Pale Shelter," Smith and Orzabal were popular pinup material inside the lockers of legions of American high school kids.

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A couple of years later, "Songs From the Big Chair" made Tears for Fears a household name. Hit singles like "Everybody Wants to Rule the World," "Shout" and "Head Over Heels" were inescapable on pop and rock radio (as well as MTV). The album hit No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 and is viewed as a key document of 1980s pop.

The sound of Tears for Fears' early work -- a shiny mix of synthesizers, samples (a new development back then) and irresistible melodies -- continues to resonate decades later. "Head Over Heels" was prominently featured in the 2001 cult film "Donnie Darko," and current artists like Lorde and Kanye West have covered or reworked Tears for Fears songs.

"Technology was changing just as we were getting started," Smith said. "You had these records by people like David Bowie and Talking Heads and Brian Eno that took production into a whole new direction. That really influenced us, and pushed us to find that early sound we had."

Smith and Orzabal parted ways after the band's third album, "Sowing the Seeds of Love," came out in 1989. They reconnected in the early 2000s, releasing the album "Everybody Loves a Happy Ending" in 2004 and embarking on a well-received world tour a few years after that. They continue to collaborate on music regularly, despite the fact that Smith lives in Los Angeles and Orzabal in England.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We work together as often as we can, but we also do a lot of work separately and then share it with each other," Smith said. "That's one of the great things about technology."

The two longtime bandmates are happy to have the chance to perform live together this spring and summer, Smith said.

"We've got a great band backing us on this tour, one of the best we've ever had," he said. "And it's nice to be sharing the bill with a band like Hall & Oates. It makes the whole thing a bit more relaxing, takes some of the pressure off. And honestly, we've been doing this a long time, and we're better at it now. I think our fans will definitely enjoy it."

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