By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa
The Tears for Fears and Garbage The Tipping Point Tour concert merged two decades of my life into one evening last night at the Mid-Florida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa, Florida. In the 1980s, one could not escape a Tears for Fears video on MTV and in the mid- to late-1990s, Garbage ruled the airwaves. Last night was particularly special because the last time I saw Tears for Fears was in 1990s during their The Seeds of Love tour. Actually owning a collection of Garbage CDs and being a long-time admirer of Shirley Manson, I had never seen them in concert. The band took a hiatus from touring in the early millennium ramped up again in the last decade. What can I say about Shirley? A feminist icon and vocal supporter of equality with a “don’t fuck with me” attitude. Enough said.
On the evening of June 10th, the air was humid and the sky was overcast, the city enduring one of its daily summer rains. With the venue being an amphitheatre, a good prayer to the rain goddess was in order—and she listened. Promptly starting at 7:30 p.m. Manson, wearing a white tunic, leggings, and her bright orange hair pulled up into a pony tail walked to each side stage, singing to the crowd. Butch Vig, often smiling and looking animated, manned the drums while stoic Eric Avery, nimbly plucked the bass strings. Duke Erikson and Steve Marker manned the guitars at the side stages.
Garbage began with performing more recent songs “Automatic Systematic Habit” and “Men Who Rule the World”. The crowd lapped up “Stupid Girl”, singing along with the chorus. “Wicked Ways” melded into a chorus of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus”.
While entranced and fixated on the band, I could not help but notice the two girls sitting in front of me. They were immersed in shopping for clothes on their cell phone, pointing at jackets and clothing on the screen, unaware a concert was in progress. Utterly shocked, I figured I would out them for their rudeness. So, if the girl with the compass rose and budgie tattoos on her back is reading this, shame on you.
Back to the concert, Manson dedicated “Queer” saying, “to all the LGBTQ people. We love you.” Then, asking the crowd, “How often in your life have you had a real bona fide love song sung to you?” A few raised their hands. She scoffed, “Oh, fuck it. We’ll play it anyway,” before diving into the James Bond theme “The World Is Not Enough”.
After singing the first line of “Wolves”, Manson asked the band to “stop” saying, “I had a break of concentration. I need to start the song all over again.” With the band smiling, she continues speaking, as her Scottish accent becomes apparent, “I started thinking of stupid shit. I fucked up the first line.” This moment was very real as Manson’s authentic personality shone, endearing the crowd to her even more.
The concert continued with “Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!)” which took me back to memories of dancing at rave bars in Amsterdam. Rounding out the set was “Push It” and “You Look so Fine”. Manson bid farewell to the crowd saying, “We wish you all love, happiness, and peace”.
Overall, I was impressed with the sound quality of the band. They were technically impressive “live” and Manson’s voice is even better in person. They left the stage making me yearn for more and revisit my Garbage 2.0 CD.
Tears for Fears hit the stage, sounding full and orchestral, a quality they are known for. The stage was smoky and often dim, as the band sounded ever-so-good as the last time I saw them, albeit, a bit older. Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith’s voices were smooth and perfect, still hitting the high notes, and sailing through familiar songs.
What has always attracted to me to Tears for Fears in my youth is their full sound, pop and dance music sensibility, yet very deep metaphoric lyrics. They show it is possible to compose infectious dance rhythms with subliminal, politic musings concurrently. “Seeds of Love” is even more relevant today than when penned over 40 years ago.
Smith chatted with the crowd, saying “Last time a year ago, I came here to Tampa was to celebrate a friend’s 60th birthday. We have a new album out called The Tipping Point. Maybe go have a listen.”
The Tipping Point, which was released in February, is the first album the duo has recorded in 17 years. Sometimes it takes maturity, experience, and the right timing to create a masterpiece—and that it is. The lyrics are still biting criticisms of society submerged in the band’s ‘big sound’ but also poignant and thought provoking.
The band performed “Long Long, Long Time” and “Break the Man”. The audience was standing and dancing to my favorite “My Demons”.
The ballads “Rivers of Mercy”, the classic “Suffer the Children”, and “Woman in Chains” showcased back-up singer Laura Evans’ voice. Smith noted, saying “And this is only her second show.”
The show ended with familiar classics like “Mad World”, “Pale Shelter”, “Head Over Heals/Broken”, and of course, “Shout”.
Thinking back on the concert a day later, I am still reveling in the aftermath. The music was stellar, the bands never sounded better—voice-wise and musically—and it makes me reflect on how timeless the music really is.
The first time I heard Garbage in the 90s I remember thinking, “This band is different. What a unique sound—and it has a nice hard edge.” It became the soundtrack for my life in the late-90s—traveling to Europe and Asia, dancing at rave bars in Amsterdam. Tears For Fears remind me of grad school, driving around in my Fiero, dancing at night clubs—and simply living life.
Thanks, Tears for Fears and Garbage for making me feel like that again—if not for a night.
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