Live Review: A total love fest as Tears for Fears return to Montreal after three decades with Carina Round

Tears For Fears Carina Round live review Montreal Place des Arts 2017 Tour

Tears for Fears with Carina Round
Place des Arts
June 22, 2017

Tears for Fears fans are definitely a patient bunch. The influential UK duo was last in town back in the early 90’s, and if anything, the band is even more relevant now than they were at that point. There was a palpable excitement about their return last night, made all the more intimate by the swank choice of venue (the band is currently out playing arenas and amphitheaters with Hall & Oates).

Opening for a legacy act like Tears For Fears can be a pretty thankless task, and UK singer-songwriter Carina Round readily acknowledged that the odds where stacked against her when she hit the stage. “Hi. It’s just me,” she addressed the room via a self-deprecating introduction, seemingly trying to manage the middle-aged crowd’s expectations.

Thankfully, she had nothing to worry about — the crowd was in Round’s palm from the get-go, listening raptly to her haunting acoustic tales of love and loss, backed up by her powerhouse vocals. Perhaps audiences on the rest of the tour have been less responsive, but Round seemed genuinely appreciative of the Montreal crowd. It didn’t hurt that early on she announced that she was seven months pregnant: “He’s ruining things already!” she joked after a false start.

Round, an accomplished solo artist and also a member of the boundary-pushing alt-rock band Puscifer (also featuring Tool frontman James Maynard Keegan), made a lasting impression with her all-too-short four-song set. Hopefully she’ll return for a proper headlining show here soon, though she will likely have her hands pretty full in two months’ time. In the meantime, her newly-released retrospective album, Deranged to Divine, is available now via her website.

Walking on-stage to a recording of Lorde’s cover of their 1985 classic “Everybody Rules the World” was a sly acknowledgment of the band’s continued influence on a new generation of fans and musicians, and segued perfectly into Tears for Fears’ own version of the iconic hit.

From there on out it was basically non-stop hits for the next 90-minutes — with no new album in tow (the band’s last record was 2004’s reunion album Everybody Loves a Happy Ending), Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith seemed happy to provide the soundtrack to a collective audience flashback.

Backed by a three-piece band (along with Carina Round pulling double-duty on backing vocals), the band was in great form, with Orzabal and Smith’s vocals sounding as precise and emotional as they did in the 80’s. While this tour is obviously an exercise in nostalgia, what was clear throughout the night was just how little much of their material has aged over the years. Tracks like “Head Over Heels” and “Mad World,” perhaps because of their inclusion in so many recent films and TV shows, sound just as fresh and novel today as they did in their initial heyday.

“Many of you in Quebec seem to know our first album The Hurting,” remarked Smith at one point, and the band made sure to pull a number of fan-favourites from their breakout debut album, including “Change” and “Pale Shelter,” both of which had the crowd up and dancing in the aisles from the opening notes.

A full cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” was an unlikely addition (complete with the track’s requisite F-bombs), but actually managed to fit in pretty well with the band’s set list. While Orzabal and Smith remained the focal point throughout the show, the entire band was given room to shine throughout the night, most notably on the the bluesy “Badman’s Song,” where Carina Round’s earth-shacking vocals were given the spotlight.

Closing out the encore with “Shout,” the political slant of the 1985 track felt as relevant as ever as nearly 3,000 people sang along with the cathartic chorus. After the thunderous reaction they received tonight, hopefully the band won’t wait another three decades to return.

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