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Review: A Flock of Seagulls proved its substance over style – The Times

When the keyboards are positioned front and center stage, you can assume you picked a good show.
And when the vocalist behind those keys has a British accent, well, all the better.
For a little more than a hour Wednesday — and really, that was fine for a school night —  A Flock of Seagulls rode their synth-driven sound to the pleasure of fans at Jergel’s Rhythm Grille.
Crisp and airy guitar and a tight, stomping drum and bass tandem helped keep the pace brisk but unhurried, skillfully showcasing one of the original British New Wave bands, guided since 1979 by singer-keyboardist Mike Score.
Score no longer sports his iconic, early-MTV era downward hair swoop covering one eye and resembling a bird’s wings on the sides. The 63-year-old Score is bald. The Jergel’s crowd, themselves with less hair — or at least much tamer than in their yearbook photos — didn’t seem fazed.
After a few songs, it became clear A Flock of Seagulls are a triumph of substance over style anyways.
I mean, Wednesday’s show rocked.
Score, joined by Kevin Rankin (drums), Gord Deppe (guitar) and singularly named bassist Pando played with enthusiasm and looked satisfied with an audience mouthing along the words to even non-radio tracks, like the staunch show-starters “Modern Love is Automatic” and “Hearts on Fire.”
Score’s vocals were solid, his synth work was engaging without getting ostentatious. The songs hearkened to the early ’80s but didn’t sound outdated. “Telecommunication,” with its minimal keyboard riff, techno-robotic vocal hook and tempo shifts, was the biggest time capsule artifact, and the audience loved it.
Score stepped away from his keyboard and grabbed a guitar to wield tastefully during the moody “Man Made.” 
Pando, the second longest-tenured member, since 2004, did occasional hype work, as when persuading a few extra cheers out of spectators by reminding them Score has kept the band going for decades. Score took a few instances to thank everyone for showing up and being lively.
Though there weren’t the number of ’80s fashion nods I had hoped for from the crowd. A shout-out to the woman who wore a sci-fi-looking white outfit with big shoulder pads.  
When Pando said to the crowd “I have one question for you,” followed by something like “Is everyone feeling good? … are you having a good time?” Score wisecracked, “Doesn’t that count as two questions?” 
A Flock of Seagulls saved the hits for the end, including “Space Age Love Song” — pairing lyrical romanticism with atmospheric guitar — and the wonderfully wistful “Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You”) with its spacey synth hook.
Pando held aloft a pointer finger to indicate one song remained.
You could sense the ripple of excited anticipation as fans reached for their video recorders to capture “I Ran (So Far Away)” the epitome of ’80s New Wave. Yes, its sounded glorious.
A Flock of Seagulls did a quick stage exit and returned for “Messages” that got people dancing. 
Just as the band Berlin proved this summer at the South Park Amphitheater, those ’80s New Wave groups still put on a fun show.
Hey, what’s Human League up to these days? And did you hear Soft Cell will release its first new album in 20 years on Feb. 25?
Scott Tady is the local Entertainment Reporter for The Beaver County Times and Ellwood City Ledger. He’s easy to reach at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @scotttady.

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