The Tears For Fears “Rule The World Tour” finally arrives in Italy, the Milan gig having been put on hold from spring 2018 due to unforeseen health concerns, but all seems well in the TFF camp, for now at least. The duo, Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, are notoriously known for living separate lives when not on stage and as being in a recording studio together is also a very rare event given their history in the last 30 or so years , let us relax and rejoice for tonight.

TFF owe their splendid musical legacy to a series of 80’s albums 1983’s “The Hurting”, 1985’s “Songs from the Big Chair” and 1989’s “The Seeds of Love” where the quality of the songs mixed with the variation of musical styles and usually stark, socially involved, often melancholy lyrics led to a widespread appeal . Indeed most of us will have a TFF song in an imaginary top 100 greatest songs and the truth is that song will vary from one person to another as they chalked up quite an impressive number of classic pop tunes. You can say that for ‘The Smiths’ obviously, ‘Depeche Mode’ maybe but not too many other bands from the 80’s and 90’s are known for more than 2 or 3 top class universally appealing tracks. Their sharp tongue, bright minds and gorgeous melodic hooks were a winning blend.
Back to 2019, it’s the standard set list performance for tonight, very similar indeed to that played throughout their 2017 American and World tour so you can rule spontaneity right out. Many bands just rely on a standard set nowadays it has to be said and live performances have generally suffered for it in my opinion if you are “old school” like me and though some possibly uneven moments can occur, sometimes unexpected and magical moments arise , that involve artists actually being “in the moment” and lest I say it, “ improvising”!

The band walk on stage, with slow deliberate paces, in a line, Roland and Curt following them too, both dressed in black, Roland with his hair tied in a ponytail. They have a drummer, keyboard player and lead guitarist on stage with them as well, as a backing/lead singer ( Corina I think), so it’s a pretty tight ensemble. This works well in the big Mediolanum Forum which can have sound issues, as the tight band with uncluttered arrangements allows the songs to breathe and clarity reign. Maybe Roland’s guitar is a bit low in the mix but that is fixed during the evening.

Vocals are superb with Roland and Curt taking it in turns really, the set list organised obligingly. Certainly opening with “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” may come as a surprize but hey, what a champion song to start with if you just think of that guitar hook. The songs still sound fresh and dreamingly pleasing. Everyone has their favourites but for me “Sowing the Seeds of Love” and “Advice for the Young at Heart” are simply delicious, with the closers “Badman’s Song” and “Head Over Heels” nigh on perfect in execution. The encore is “Shout” which brings the packed forum to its feet, everybody in the hall on vocals this time.

This is not some sort of nostalgia show. It’s a testament to good pop music that if done right, in the hands of people who know, is as fulfilling as any classical, jazz, rock , soul classic standard in every way. My only gripe, and it’s as a hopeless romantic, is that not once did Roland and Curt sing on the same mic, or even pat each other on the back, hell, exchange glances. They are Tears For Fears, that seemingly being the only thing they have in common and that is all that counts, but it would have been nice to see a handshake on stage. Maybe the rumours of a distance between them is true but be that as it may, there is a binding closeness between them and their fans that is evident and satisfying.