Tears for Fears review – evergreen pop stars let it all out

Curt Smith explains that Tears for Fears’ former management team had a grand masterplan for the group. There’d be no more new music, they’d just tour the old hits, and become producers and songwriters for other people. “That didn’t work out,” the singer/bassist tells the audience. “Eventually we fired them and made an album that we’re proud of.” He’s referring to this year’s critically garlanded The Tipping Point, their first album in 18 years and highest charting (No 2) in 30.

No less than seven of its 10 songs appear in this two-hour show, but their faith in it is justified. They are superbly crafted songs rich in meaning and emotion. The sumptuously moving title track, inspired by the death of singer-guitarist Roland Orzabal’s first wife in 2017, refers to the “tipping point” between life and death; Rivers of Mercy, as fine a song as they have written, pleads for peace in a world of rage. The songs span a musical spectrum from the Simon and Garfunkel-y opener No Small Thing to My Demons, a terrific Kasabian-like electro stomp about extremist violence.

Now 60 and 61 respectively, Orzabal and Smith are even more visually mismatched than in their 80s heyday. The former, bearded with long white hair, could star in a period drama, while Smith’s Fred Perry top and buzzcut make him resemble a member of socialist skinhead band the Redskins. Orzabal in particular has become quite the raconteur. “Are we sad or cheery?” he asks, referring to the end of Boris Johnson’s reign, as cheers ring out – though he turns pantomime villain when he reveals that the Somerset pair support Manchester United (boos abound).

Their show delivers a steady stream of classics throughout. Backing vocalist Lauren Evans sings Suffer the Children and much of Woman in Chains, about Orzabel’s mum, superbly. Mad World, Pale Shelter, Change, Head Over Heels and the new End of Nightare sublime, electronic-driven, swirling pop. Finally, Shout urges “Shout, shout, let it all out”, and Newcastle erupts in thrilling communal catharsis.

• At Floors Castle, Kelso, 8 July. Then touring to 26 July.