A Flock of Seagulls have two reference points in wider pop culture: the hair, and their 1982 single ‘I Ran (So Far Away)’. The hair is long gone, but the latter closes out the show. In between, a sold out crowd in Leeds is treated to a set of brilliant synthpop.
Mike Score has a cold. You can tell: he sounds rough, especially on the verses. Thankfully each chorus is still hammered home with a machine-like efficacy. Each hook still catches. And while nobody would be fooled into thinking the year is 1982, it’s enough to make you wish it was.
The Seagulls tracks fall into two distinct categories: harsh, sci-fi inflected new wave and woozy, washing love ballads. ‘The Traveller’ is a clear example of former, a throwback to the days when the Seagulls were proto-punks. The deepening of frontman Mike Score’s register only adds to the grinding, aggressive sound. Add to that ‘Modern Love Is Automatic’ & ‘Telecommunication’.
However it is this second category that proves the most enduring. The band’s advancing years has only given these peppery torch songs a deeper sense of longing. ‘Space Age Love Song’ has lost none of it’s power; it’s still a swooning, gorgeous few minutes of space age heartache. ‘Wishing (If I Had A Photograph Of You)’ has a hook that simply bores into you, a bittersweet ostinato that will be hummed for weeks to come.
When they close out the show with ‘I Ran (So Far Away)’ it’s a fusion of the two, and one of the most iconic songs of the 80s. The humming synths, thudding post-punk basslines and shattered-glass guitar riffs sound amazing all night, and Flock of Seagulls prove they still have it.