Tears For Fears live at Hammerstein Ballroom

Posted by The G on August 20, 2010 under G Reviews | 22 Comments to Read

Photos by G.

Roland Orzabal of Tears For Fears

When you go to as many shows as I do (search the archives for proof), and when you have so many great experiences as I am lucky enough to have, the bad ones stand out like sore thumbs.  Tears For Fears is one of my favorite bands of all time, so naturally, I’ll see them every chance I get.  My latest chance was August 19, 2010, where the duo played a sold out show at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom.  I arrived at the venue to be greeted by “the head of security” from Tears for Fears who was a total dick!  He advised me and one other person who cared about meeting the band that “autographed merchandise is ‘reasonably priced’ for sale inside the venue and they are not interested to meet fans on the streets of New York.” I’ve met the band before and they were both nice.  In line talking to other fans, I heard some horrible stories about what a prick their head of security is, and it sounds like he might have the best interests of himself ahead of those of the band he is supposed to be protecting.

Tears for Fears performing on the "We Just Want Your Cash" Tour.

Then the disorganization of the venue reared its ugly head.  Once inside the Hammerstein Ballroom, we were advised that our general admission floor tickets were halfway back on the floor, which is unheard of at a concert!  Standing room at concerts is always in front of the seats and not the other way around – except at this backwards venue!  This basically means that the people who have stood for hours to be close to the stage could have just turned up 5 minutes before the show started because the crappy vantage point would be just the same!  To make matters worse, the venue had not prepared all the seats to be ready before they opened the doors, so there were a few near riot like situations with absolutely rude (and moronic) security guards trying to push people back to allow for the delivery of more seats.  I will definitely be sending a copy of this blog to the people in charge of the venue and I am seriously considering boycotting future events at the Hammerstein Ballroom.  The way we were treated due to their lack of competence is unforgivable and I am asking that at the very least, we are offered refunds.  I’ll definitely keep you posted as to their answer, and in the meanwhile, please spread the message to all your friends on all of your various social networks.  We are in a great depression and if we are going to spend our hard earned money for a service, we should not have to put up with this lack of professionalism!  The people have the power, but only if we use it.

Curt Smith of Tears For Fears

With all of that drama aside, Tears For Fears hit the stage around 9 o’clock and played hit after hit.  In fact, the set list was not much different than when I saw them last in 2004, which is a bit disappointing since they are not even touring to support a record.  As much as I love them, and I do love nearly every song off every album, I have to call this the “We Just Want Your Cash” Tour.  Only for about 30 seconds of the entire show did Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith stand anywhere near each other (a’la Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham), but they clearly know they can sell more tickets together than they can as solo acts, so they grin and bear it.  Tears for Fears couldn’t even manage to play at least one song from each of their 5 albums (the album “Raoul and the Kings of Spain” was not represented at all), and key hits such as “Mother’s Talk” and “Change” were omitted, but the parts of the show that were good were great.

From “The Hurting” they played “Memories Fade,” “Mad World” (both the orchestral and album version), and “Pale Shelter.”  From “Songs From the Big Chair” they played “Shout,” “Everybody Wants To Rule The World,” and “Head Over Heels.”  From “The Seeds of Love” they played “Sowing the Seeds of Love,” “Woman In Chains” and “Advice for the Young At Heart.”  “Elemental” was represented with “Break it Down Again.”  Off their most recent album, 2004’s “Everybody Loves a Happy Ending,” they performed the title track, “Secret World,” “Call Me Mellow,” “Quiet Ones” and the B-side “Floating Down The River.” Roland Orzabal did a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and Curt Smith played his solo song “Seven of Sundays.”  I definitely had a great time, but there were a few black marks on an otherwise beautiful night.  I’m pretty sure this will be the last time I will ever pay to see Tears For Fears in concert, but I’ll always support their music if they decide to make more.

If you don’t know the albums I have referenced above, get them!  They are masterpieces from a highly underrated band!  Roland Orzabal’s solo album “Tomcats Screaming Outside” is really great as well.

See a few more pictures of Tears for Fears as well as the set list and the merch, after the jump.

Roland Orzabal

Curt Smith

The Setlist was:

Orchestral Mad World Intro (Curt Smith Solo) / Everybody Wants To Rule The World / Secret World / Sowing The Seeds Of Love / Everybody Loves A Happy Ending / Call Me Mellow / Mad World / Memories Fade / Quiet Ones / Woman In Chains (duet with Michael Wainwright) / Advice For The Young At Heart / Seven Of Sundays / Billie Jean / Pale Shelter / Break It Down Again / Head Over Heels.


Band intro / Floating Down The River / Shout

"Reasonably Priced Autographed Merch" (on items you don't want signed)

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  • 90046 said,

    Interesting. Thanks for the review.

  • AngryOldMan said,

    It was the same setup as the Heart show – seats up front and GA in the back. Not sure why they do it but since I was lucky enough to get seats, I’m not complaining.

    Loved the show though!

  • Jane said,

    I’m so sorry to hear what happened at Hammerstein; however, having attended both the Boston and Hampton, NH shows, the seating arrangements/standing room only was perfectly executed. I have to completely disagree with your comments re their song choices–with the utter myriad of songs they have recorded, either individually or as a group, it would be impossible to please everyone–I think their set list perfectly represented everything that any true fan would want to hear. It would be a 12-hour (at least!) show if all were played to please every single fan–would that ever make me happy. I was so impressed at how they tried and(certainly, in my case) succeeded in choosing such great songs for their concerts (same set list in NY). I feel blessed to have experienced two nights of magic. Thank you, Roland and Curt–you continue to be nothing short of amazing artists.

  • Matthew said,

    Interesting review. Some observations from where I sit are as follows.
    – Can’t comment on the event location set up myself, as I was not there. Sounds unfortunate, and I tend to agree with the writer that you would think the event management would figure out how to set up seats after all these years.
    – regarding the set list, it should be noted that they haven’t played songs such as Change, or MTalk, since the late 80’s, and have stated no desire to do so. An 18 song 1.30 show is pretty much standard, and, while we would all enjoy more “classics” the band have stated, repeatedly, that they play what they like, balanced against what they know most people want.
    Tellingly, both Raoul and Elemental did not have large US hit singles with the exception of BreakItDA, and this was performed. RATKOFS was performed in all 3 previous tours, and was dropped to add Billie Jean.
    Memories Fade was added last summer, and had not been performed since 87.
    Evidence that you can’t have everything, although we would all like more.

    Regarding the relationship between Smith and Orzabal, I note that being buddies on stage has never been part of the show, and that they historically have not mugged together, with the well publicized exception of the last show of the “original” TFF band, at Knebworth 1990. The 2 guys have been known one another for 35 years, and don’t feel the need to express this on stage, nightly.

    Regarding your comments about “we just want your cash” I find it trite, and without merit. Ticket and souvenir prices are/were aligned with industry norms. Candidly, no one forced anyone to attend, and those that did knew exactly what the price was well in advance. Band tours such as this one are “for profit” ventures, and in the absence of recorded material sales in the current music model, is presumed to be an income for the band, promoter and the venue.

    Bottom line here is this. It’s too bad that you didn’t like the venue, but the performance ( and rationale for the performance ) was without peer.

    PS.Totally agree with you on the CD’s. They are all remarkable. RATKOS and Elemental are stunning.

  • adam said,

    if you had of looked the seating chart on Ticketmaster’s web page you would have known that there were both reserved floors and general admission floors. this was the second show of the tour i have been too (i flew in from Toronto) and was great! they added the acoustic guitar for seven of sunday’s, billie jean and pale shelter (which was much needed)



    my only complaint is that there were speakers in front of the first row of seats (i had front row floors) so it was a tad loud.

  • Cindy said,

    I’d love to know where this merchandise was. When I walked in, I was looking for merchandise (I usually buy a souvenir at every show I go to) and was disappointed when I didn’t see anything. Even when Michael Wainright kept mentioning that his CD was sold outside, I was thinking “uh, WHERE?”

  • The G said,

    I think the TFF diehards are misunderstanding me. I have been looking forward to this show for months and I love the band SO much. For someone that goes to an average of 3 shows each week, my experience at this concert sadly does not rank very high. I can accept mediocrity from bands I don’t care much about, but I only expect the best from Tears for Fears and I feel I got mediocrity. No need to try and convince me otherwise. This is my opinion. And I thank you all for reading 🙂

  • Matthew said,

    Your loss. With all due respect, I feel you are looking for something that isn’t generally achievable. As previously noted, if more songs ( which, admittedly, we all would like ) were added, would you have enjoyed it more?
    Mother’s Talk and Change have not been performed for over 23 years. Raoul was in the last 3 tours, including the SouthAsia tour this past spring.

    Your comments are inconsistent as well. I quote “but the parts of the show that were good were great.” Yet you seem unsatisfied?

    Indeed, you seem to want more, and different songs, on one side of your argument, and yet you are unsatisfied with their performance on the other. So you are saying you want more of what you didn’t enjoy?


    I have seen 5 TFF shows over the years ( likely alot less than many others here ) and can say that the energy and singing quality ( particularily Mr.O ) is better now than ever.

  • mike said,

    It is a total disgrace to call this the “We Just Want Your Cash” Tour. I have no idea what Curt or Rolands bank account indicates and its really none of our business. Tours make money and I think that’s how it is supposed to work.

    The situation at the Hammerstein was a joke. I bought my tickets at ticketmaster 3 months ago and NOWHERE did it mention VIP seating or anything. It said general admission. Strange though, after purchasing the tickets, it referenced some row and seat number. Arriving at the Hammerstein my wife and I were definitely pissed off to see VIP seating. The ensuing disaster speaks for itself.

    The set list was perfect. The sound was great. A bit chunky on the bass at times. A few loud & stupid fans who, with the reviewer, should have stayed home last night and watch the Mets lose.

  • Matthew said,

    Well said Mike.

    G,with all due respect,perhaps you should restrict your reviews to concerts that are performed on a “not for profit ” basis. That way, the cost of the show, and the revenue behind it, would not colour your opinions.
    Of course, your hundreds of shows may be diminished somewhat.

    Come to think of it, perhaps you might want to illuminate us all with a listing of all the shows you have seen that were performed purely out of charity, with no ticket charges. I would personally enjoy attending some of these, and to read your reviews of same.

  • adam said,

    the reserved seats were not VIP…when you purchased your tickets i bet you chose best available…the click down option stated a reserved floor 🙂 it seems as if a lot of people did not bother to pay close enough attention. i knew full well what i purchased and was very happy lol

  • mike said,

    hi Adam,

    I am a pretty sure that was not the case. If it was, well, my loss. Nonetheless there must have been a whole bunch of TFF fans and attendees who “did not bother pay attention”. Glad you enjoyed it (as you LOL).

    (Thanks Matthew for your thoughts)

  • The G said,

    Matthew and Mike, while I thank you for taking the time to write, it’s clear you have not taken the time to browse the site before making accusations. I’ve reviewed hundreds of shows on this site. And I certainly would never waste my time watching sports! Been there, done that. Met them all, have moved on.

    I always try and pull the memorable experiences of the night and write about them – whether positive or negative. Typically they are all positive. It doesn’t take much to please me, and it’s also upsetting to me to alienate the fan base of a band I love. But this site is called According2g because the views expressed are mine. I’ve been listening to their music since 1983 and in that time seen countless shows and I’ve heard all the bootlegs so I stand by what I said. I’m happy that your experience was great. Mine wasn’t and I wrote about it.

  • adam said,

    trust me, that was the case as i bought my tickets the minute they went on sale and had all the info i need from the box office prior to purchase. the show was great, tff sounded great and that’s all that counts.

  • NickieV said,

    Loved Tears for Fears. We prefer the Beacon. The venue and the seating were a mess. With our tickets in hand people were being told that is was open seating! Some crazy fans of course should be removed.

  • Matthew said,

    The G ( and all your followers )

    Here are some comments from the source of your “total dick” commentary. Clearly, there are two sides to every story.
    Effort here is to ensure a completely accurate picture of the situation.

  • Matthew said,

    Here is the link.


  • The G said,

    Hi Matthew.

    You have no idea how much it saddens me to have had to write any words that don’t paint Tears for Fears in the best light possible. I love the band so much and have loved them since 1983. Despite my sour experience, I still love them. But what you are missing is that I just didn’t have a great experience at the show and I wrote about it. I am happy for all those who had great experiences.

    And PS. the head of security has only told a part of the story to that website you posted the link from. In reality 2 people cared about meeting the band. I’ve recently met superstars such as Chris Martin from Coldplay, Lady Gaga and MGMT and they had plenty of time to meet their fans.

  • Jayna said,

    I appreciate your post. Many times the night seeing a favorite band isn’t what we wanted. But a lot of the issues weren’t the band’s fault. And regarding the setlist, I wanted Raoul on there and Closest Thing to Heaven. But they can’t please everybody. We all want different things. I didn’t want Change because I want more of Roland’s singing. They will never play Mother’s Talk, I’m sure, because they’re 49 and it seems too juvenile. You won’t ever go again? Wow. Very few 80s acts have the kinds of vocals Curt and especially Roland have live in concert. They sound like their records. No vocal deterioration. And they don’t tour much and one day won’t be around at all. You are making a huge mistake not seeing them again ever, but I guess if that’s your feeling from just one ok experience, you won’t miss them. Not me. Love love their harmonies and their songs and voices. The little they tour I will be there.

  • Gruno said,

    FACT: “Mother’s Talk” was performed by Tears For Fears at a handful of shows during the 2005 summer tour.

  • Jayna said,

    Wow, they did Mother’s Talk in 2005 and I never saw it? My heart is broken. I assumed Roland didn’t want to play that song. I absolutely love the beat to that song and the remixes and extended version. Brilliant New Wave. I love Change, too, for that very same reason. But I have to have my Roland fix as far as vocals live, so would chose MT over Change.

    I wish they would play Elemental next go-round. I know it was when Curt wasn’t in the band, but what a song and Roland’s vocals are amazing on that song. And it has nice bass lines for Curt.

  • Paula said,

    It’s well-known among the long-time fans that the “head of security” is a power-tripper. If he takes a personal dislike to a fan for any reason, he can have their picture at the front gate and they won’t get in. Period. He’ll go out of his way to be rude to fans. Seen it personally. The explanation that most autograph seekers are ebay hawks is kinda funny, since a quick search there brings up no merchandise whatsoever, current or completed. Friend of mine tried to sell a Curt autographed item, and got no bids and few looks. (I think the boys have a mighty high opinion of themselves.)
    I think it’s pretty clear from official website whining that one of the boys was only doing this tour for the cash. Boo hoo, a whole week of fancy hotel rooms. Poor thing.
    After hearing some of the marginal stuff issuing from once-golden throats, I decided to give this tour a pass. Glad I did. I’ve heard disappointment expressed in many aspects of the show. Die-hard fans (I used to be one) will always gush about how great everything about a show was (with lots of exclamation points), and will lash out at those who express a different opinion.

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