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Tears for Fears give big Uptown Theater crowd reasons to smile

Tears for Fears
Tears for Fears

The floor of the Uptown Theater was lined with rows of white plastic chairs on Monday night, but few were needed. This would be no sit-down show.

Throughout the 95-minute set, most of the crowd of 1,600-plus stood, sang along, and rained love and appreciation upon Tears for Fears.

The new-wave/synth band is led by founders Roland Orzabal (guitar) and Curt Smith (bass), who shared vocal duties. Both are in their early 50s, and though 30 years have passed since the band’s MTV heydays, both have maintained their voices, especially Orzabal, who unleashed a skyscraping falsetto several times. They were backed vocally by singer-songwriter Corina Round, who opened the show.

They and their three-piece band (guitar, keyboards/synths, drums) took the stage as Lorde’s cover of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” played over the PA. Then the lights went up, and the crowd got a live version of the song from the guys who wrote it. It sounded much like the recorded version, and it set off the first of many hearty sing-alongs. The bright and Beatle-ish “Sowing the Seeds of Love,” which came one song later, set off another.

The set list bobbed about the band’s discography, which comprises six albums released over 20 years, and the crowd was familiar with most of it. It went back to “The Hurting,” released in 1983, and songs like “Pale Shelter,” “Change” and the lovely but dark ballad “Mad World.” Their version of that song has been eclipsed by the cover version that appeared in the film “Donnie Darko,” but this evening Tears for Fears owned it.

The crowd was receptive and attentive all night. Songs like “Break It Down Again” (their last big U.S. hit) and “Advice for the Young at Heart” got big responses. So did the straight cover of Radiohead’s “Creep,” which brought a ’90s flavor into a show that felt predominantly ’80s.

There were plenty of visual elements: spotlights and other lights; images projected on a screen behind the band; and a disco ball that spit beads of light around the room during a couple songs.

Round showed off her vocal power during the funky “Badman’s Song,” in which she and Orzabal traded falsettos. They would close with three of their better-known songs. The jubilant “Head Over Heels” closed the first set, priming the crowd for the encore.

At Tears for Fear’s previous performance in Kansas City, at a casino in 2004, Oleta Adams made a surprise appearance and joined in on “Woman in Chains.” She was not present this evening. Instead, Round sang her part. It didn’t diminish the crowd’s response.

They closed with “Shout,” and the crowd jumped in and took that over before the band could, singing the chorus during the instrumental intro. According to Smith and Orzabal, it’s a song about protest and questioning authority. But this evening, like most of the songs that preceded it, it felt like a celebration of a band and its enduring music.

To reach Timothy Finn, call 816-234-4781 or send email to tfinn@kcstar.com. Follow the Back to Rockville blog on Twitter @kcstarrockville.

SET LIST

Everybody Wants to Rule the World; Secret World; Sowing the Seeds of Love; Pale Shelter; Break It Down Again; Everybody Loves a Happy Ending; Change; Mad World; Memories Fade; Closest Thing to Heaven; Advice for the Young at Heart; Creep; Badman’s Song; Head Over Heels. Encore: Woman in Chains; Shout.

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