June 17, 2015 Tears for Fears, The B-52s, & Berlin Bring Memorable and Inspiring Night to Denver, CO 6-14-15
It is one thing to be a pioneer, trend setter, or musical influence. However it is a whole different accomplishment to be ahead of the times. Three bands that certainly fit into such a category of achievement would easily be Tears for Fears, The B-52s, and Berlin. Thanks to the good folks at KXKL-FM, AKA Kool 105, in Denver, CO, the hometown crowd was treated to one of the best Summer lineups in recent memory with three iconic bands ready to get Denver moving. The sight was monumental at Fiddler’s Green on Sunday June 14th as legions of fans flocked to Fiddler’s Green, a better example of how music brings different flavors of spectators together could not be found. From age difference to cultural splits were filing in to witness the show reminiscing on how the bands influenced them, first time hearing of them, what they hope to hear in the sets, and aspirations of to run off with the bands into the sunset (ok so that last one was a stretch, but hey not completely too outrageous to fathom.) The treat that some may have not noticed though, is this was no world tour or a mini tour for that matter, this was a one time musical experience brought to the Mile High City by one of its favorite music stations.
Sexy, provocative, infectious beats, and attitude to spare is a few ways you could sum up Berlin through the years, though you would be falling a tad short. Bursting out of the L.A. scene in the late ’70s, Berlin never was a group to pay much attention to their surroundings. Disco may have just died, and Glam Rock was on its way to be being king, but Berlin never followed the trend. Granted their 1980 debut album was Information, the album itself was never a true stamp of who Berlin is. That came shortly after with the release of 1982’s Pleasure Victim, which not only featured the return of vocalist Terri Nunn, but marked a whole new feel for New Wave. If that was not enough, they delivered one of the ’80s most treasured songs, the infamous “Take My Breath Away.” This track has since defined who was really awake in the ’80s, as if everyone did know it, danced to it, had their first kiss to it, or ate ice cream on the couch watching 1986’s Top Gun only to weep over their recent break-up when the track came on; well then they just did not live in the ’80s. Sadly, as the decade closed out, so did Berlin, much to their fans’ disappointment. Fast forward to the 2000s and Berlin was back, and with a vengeance. In fact, Nunn and her band of Chris Olivas (drums), Carlton Bost (guitar), along with Dave Schulz (keyboards) have since released three must listen to albums, including their most recent in 2013 titled Animal, and are still running on all cylinders live.
Berlin’s live show in Denver was at best mesmerizing. Nunn’s voice was on full display as they kicked off their set with their classic hit from 1984’s Love Life, “No More Words.” In an instant, the crowd was transported to a much more cultured era when MTV played actual music videos and people had to actually stop at the gas station for direction versus tapping a smartphone screen. Berlin then followed with one of their most infectious and haunting tunes, “The Metro,” demonstrating just how in sync the band is with each other. Some would say the highlight was Nunn showing just how remarkable of a singer she is with a performance of the aforementioned “Take My Breath Away.” Although, the argument could be made that the true gems were the sexy/risqué track “Sex (I’m A…),” and the amazing closing cover of Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody to Love.” Berlin continue to tour the West Coast for select dates through August, so do not miss them.
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“If you do not like The B-52s you just do not know how to have fun,” should be the motto for the band. While many would dare to label the band as “New Wave,” it is literally damn well near impossible to crunch this band into a specific genre. They have practically tackled any style with the greatest of ease and confidence. Those who want Surfer Rock, try their unforgettable single “Rock Lobster.” Or perhaps a light-hearted track to get one ready for a night of fun and carelessness, try “Love Shack.” Whatever one fancies, the trio of Kate Pierson, Fred Schneider, and Cindy Wilson have been listeners’ gracious hosts since 1976. Goofy, insane, and carefree was always their style, and with more hits than a Cheech and Chong movie,they were the king and queens of fun.
As the trio casually strolled onto the stage, the crowd erupted into a chorus of screams and admiration. It was an interesting mid-tempo night for the B-52s with tracks such as “Love in the Year 3000” and “Hot Lava.” However, one would have never guessed it from the crowd as they filtered into the aisle ways with their partners or light poles (yep light poles) to grind away remainder daylight. Without question, the party really got started with memorable tracks “Roam,” mega-hit “Love Shack,” and “Private Idaho.” The proverbial roof was literally blown off the arena when the band got into full swing with their classic “Rock Lobster.” What can be said other than this iconic group refuses to stop, and their music will continue to get the crowd moving. The B-52s will also be playing select West Coast shows this Summer, including a few days with The Psychedelic Furs at Los Angeles Hollywood Bowl in September.
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“Across the pond” from bands such as Berlin and the B-52s came one of music’s most inspiring bands, Tears for Fears. The core of this musical juggernaut is the duo of Roland Orzabal (guitars and vocals) and Curt Smith (bass and vocals). Like the two other bands on the bill, Tears for Fears is a band that has defied the times. Even in 83 to 85, their albums The Hurting and Songs From the Big Chair were albums that were well beyond their time. The musical compositions for tracks such as “Mad World,” “Shout,” and “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” may have had New Wave touches to it, but were far more complex than most of the material coming from the genre. The lyrics were introspective and inspired one to really push to make not only the world around them better, but themselves as well.
Before the band entered the stage, the crowd was treated to a haunting rendition of “Everyone Wants to Rule the World,” it was so dark and hypnotic one could feel goosebumps raising on their skin. It was a special set for the band from England, as they marked their return to Colorado for the first time in many years. As they got into their third track “Sowing the Seeds of Love,” one could tell just how much the crowd has been itching for the band’s return as they belted in unison every word, while rejoicing in one memorable performance. It is important for a band returning to a city it has not played in over a decade to throw a total curve at the audience and give them something they did not see coming, that came with the band’s cover of Radiohead’s “Creep.” The cover was done with utmost perfection, as Roland demonstrated his vocal prowess. Wrapping up their set with fan-favorite “Head over Heels,” everyone wanted more Tears for Fears, and more they got with a great encore beginning with the sorrowful “Woman in Chains” before concluding with the emotional release of “Shout.”
Overall, this was a night to remember, three bands who thirty years ago were all just getting the tread going on the road and building a name. Now, they still sound nothing short of genius and perfection. While the rest of the world missed out on this rather awe-inspiring line up, the Mile High City was blessed to witness it, as this will be a show people will talk about for years to come.