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Review: A Flock Of Seagulls – 18/07/19 – Riverside, Newcastle

22/07/2019

The vibe of the night was obvious from the moment you walked through the doors of Newcastle’s Riverside. New wave and post-punk classics blared out ahead of a night of neon-drenched 80s nostalgia. Obviously on board with this build-up, support band, KNIGHT$, made their entrance to Nina’s 99 Red Balloons…

The karaoke classic faded and the two-piece wasted no time, kicking into their first track ‘What We Leave Behind’- a generous serving of quality electro-pop. 

Despite only getting started (under this moniker at least) in 2016, their hearts clearly belong in the 80s. Their thumping tracks – like ‘Playing It Cool’ with its big beats and tasty synth riffs – as well as their choice of outfits. A frontman complete with a leather jacket, gloves and sunglasses, and a keys player rocking serious Debbie Harry vibes, signal a real love of the decade’s style and music.

From a brilliant cover of the Pet Shop Boys’ ‘Heart’, to the Giorgio Moroder sounds of their original tracks like ‘Gelato’ – the pair had no trouble getting the audience into it right from the off. Their last song ‘Dollars & Cents’ was Funky Town meets Electric Six, powerful vocals and drum machine beats bringing a solid set to an end.

Not to be outdone on the entrance music, A Flock Of Seagulls sauntered on-stage to Eurythmics classic ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)’. Frontman Mike Score, the only OG member, may not have his signature haircut anymore, but the rest of the band made up for it, with a commitment to New Romantic styles you couldn’t help but admire.

After their punchy opener, ‘Modern Love Is Automatic’, the bassist, Pando, seemed set to introduce the band before pausing at “We are…” to which they were greeted by a whipped-up crowd yelling “…A Flock Of Seagulls!”. I’ve never seen a band get the crowd to introduce them before and was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t come across as conceited. 

From there it was down to business, ‘Hearts on Fire’ impressed with its soaring keyboard intro and soft rock stylings elevated by great vocals from Score. This was swiftly followed by ‘Rainfall’, a synth-led track with a clean guitar riff base, building into a true 80s alternative ballad.

With the slower songs out of the way, guitarist Gord Deppe became the lifeblood of the set – his gothic new wave lead driving the rest of the set into more energetic territory. ‘The More You Live, The More You Love’ was the first in this sequence with Deppe’s excellent riff-work ringing out over note-perfect vocals from Score and a frenetic performance from bassist, Pando.

Then came ‘Telecommunication’, a heavier track when performed live, with a post-punk chorus driven by catchy lead guitar and effect-heavy solos topped off with trippy, psychedelia-inspired bridge harmonies.

Iconic tracks like ‘Wishing (I Had A Photo Of You)’ sounded as dynamic as when they were released. Introducing ‘Space Age Love Song’ Score said it’s one of his favourites the group ever recorded, and it seemed that his fans agreed, with good reason.

Of course, no Flock Of Seagulls setlist would be complete without the indisputable classic, ‘I Ran’. From the first note until the last lick, this one had the crowd in the palm of their hand – it’s a song that’s impossible not to sing along to and, when it’s performed with such passion, it’s tough not to get swept up. 

Their one-track encore ‘Messages From The Rings Of Saturn’ taken from their 1982 debut, self-titled album was a powerful closer – leaving the crowd in no doubt that the 80s may have long gone, but its sound is just as fresh and vital as ever.

PHOTOS: CARL CHAMBERS

WORDS: JOHN PATTERSON 

Check out our Gig Gallery from the show with photos by Carl Chambers here…

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