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CONCERT REVIEW: Tears for Fears and Hall & Oates

Keaton Bell / Red Dirt Report
Fertile Ground Compost Service

TULSA, Okla. – I’ll admit that when I first heard Tears for Fears and Hall & Oates were joining forces for a co-headlining tour across the country this summer, my excitement was almost outweighed by my confusion. Sure they both debuted in the MTV-fueled musical arena of the ‘80s, but the darkly moody sound of Tears For Fears is pretty far from the blue-eyed soul Hall & Oates has become synonymous with. 

But if their show in Tulsa at the BOK Center this past Thursday night is any indication, it might just be a match made in ‘80s heaven. As the opening night of their tour that runs through July, the two groups unearthed everything from their greatest hits to fan favorites to deliver a nearly four-hour set. And judging from the hoots and hollers that started the second Tears for Fears walked onstage and didn’t stop until Hall & Oates’s encore, the audience relished every second of it. 

After soul musician Allen Stone’s brief opening set, the lights of the BOK came down as Lorde’s eerie cover of “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” played. When it transitioned into the instantly-recognizable opening of Tears For Fears’ original, members Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith appeared beaming ear-to-ear as the screams reached deafening heights. Arguably their signature song and one of the greatest synth-pop tracks to come out of the decade, you couldn’t help but feel like you were being transported back to 1985. 

“Good morning beautiful people of Tulsa, it’s so good to be back!” With songs as broodingly passionate as theirs, it’d be fair to expect the men behind the music to be of a similar nature. But the duo that makes up Tears for Fears were surprisingly light-hearted, cracking jokes with one another and engaging with the crowd as they rounded off hits like “Change” and “Advice for the Young at Heart.” 

“This is our very first night on a very long tour and we’ve gotta thank Hall & Oates for so we play to this many people,” Orzabal said. “We have new lights, a new guitar kit, new drum set-ups. The only thing that’s not new is me and Curt.” 

But age has done nothing to diminish the magic of Tears for Fears and their music. Their vocal interplay was magnetic, such as when Smith sang “Pale Shelter” with a manic energy and Orzabal gave Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” a moody makeover with his downbeat rendition. 

The price of a ticket is worth it alone just to watch them perform “Head Over Heels,” which sounded note-for-note like the studio version but with an added texture that only live performance can produce. The power of the drums paired with that iconic baseline was goose bump-inducing from start to finish, with more than a few audience members wiping away their tears by the epic finale. 

And even if Hall & Oates might seem like the musical antithesis of Tears for Fears, it hardly mattered when the duo stepped out and opened with “Adult Education,” a cut from their 1983 compilation Rock ’n Soul Part 1.  

The biggest thing you learn at a Hall & Oates show is just how long these guys have been around and the bizarrely long amount of hits they have. Going back-to-back from “Maneater” to “Out of Touch” to “Say It Isn’t So,” I caught myself remarking “Oh I forgot about this one!” more than once. 

Rocking a leather jacket with aviator shades, Daryl Hall hasn’t lost any of his old-school cool over the years. “Well it’s great to back in Tulsa to kick this off with Tears for Fears. It’s gonna be a helluva year!,” Hall remarked. John Oates was just as enthusiastic, and it was a treat to see him rocking a t-shirt donning fellow Tulsa music venue Cain’s Ballroom logo on it. 

While it’s easy to write off Hall & Oates as the “You Make My Dreams” hit-makers who reveled in ‘80s excess, their two-hour set was a reminder of just how wide-ranging their career is. The dudes have got some serious soul, as evidence by their cover of The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.”

And in staying true to their jazz and blues-rock roots, Hall & Oates didn’t so much perform their songs as they let them unfurl into ten-minute extravaganzas. It was obvious the duo was having a blast with the setlist, with Hall’s piano solos and Oates’s gripping guitar work breathing new life into songs we’ve heard a million times before like “One on One” and “Method of Modern Love.” 

It also helps that the men have aged just as well as their music. When Hall sat down at the piano to sing the gooey balled “Sara Smile” or the R&B ditty “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do),” every single middle-aged woman in the crowd collectively swooned (including me if we’re being completely honestly here). And if their hits sounded great spaced out among their set, Hall & Oates nearly gave the crowd a heart attack when they came back for an encore filled with three back-to-back showstoppers: “Rich Girl,” “Kiss on My List,” and “Private Eyes.”

Whether you’re a casual Hall & Oates listener or a Tears for Fears fanatic, the two groups have come together to craft one of the most surprisingly engrossing tours of the year. While they both would make for a fantastic show on their own, together the two acts have created a blast from the past more than worthy of revisiting. My only advice: make sure to go with someone who won’t judge you too harshly for screaming your heart out to “Shout” or dancing in the aisles to “You Make My Dreams.”

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About the Author

Keaton Bell

Born in Minnesota but raised in Oklahoma, Keaton is a senior at the University of Oklahoma...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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