A Flock Of Seagulls / Rodney Cromwell

New Cross Inn, London - 3 April 2022

"It all seemed a bit surreal frankly"

Little did I know back in 1982, when I bought A Flock of Seagulls' self-titled debut album, that I'd be here, 40 years later, in a pub in south London on a Sunday evening, bopping away with a huge smile on my face to the same band (well, kinda). But I'm so glad I was.

Support came from ironically dour synthpopist Rodney Cromwell, an act I'd been following since its inception. The live lineup personal appears to have shifted a little over the past few years, but resulting tonight in excellent arrangements of the (solo-recorded work) for Richard Salt's live guitar and Martin J Langthorne on a second set of keyboards. It was punchy stuff.

Cromwell (aka Happy Robot label founder Adam Creswell) delivered some of his dryly entertaining banter between songs. "Get my five albums before I get too drunk and I loose my card machine."

Rodney Cromwell 2022    Rodney Cromwell 2022

Photos [L-R]: Rodney Cromwell

The material off his latest album Memory Box (which is the best thing he's released so far) sounds terrific live. Halfway through the set and Black Dog sees Cromwell on guitar, and you could see him winning over the packed audience, most of whom had probably never heard him before tonight.

Echoes of Republic-era New Order on one or two songs expose some of Cromwell's influences. By the time we get to the final track, new single Comrades, the crowd were well warmed up and dancing along. Not the best song to finish on, but the whole performance went down well with whoops of approval at the end.

Setlist: Wristwatch Television, The Winter Palace, Memory Box, Black Dog, Waiting Room, Opus Three, Comrades

I wondered what would someone who remembers A Flock Of Seagulls from height of their fame, but wasn't a fan, walking past this unassuming south London pub on a Sunday night, saw and heard what was happening inside. Blimey, A Flock Of Seagulls are playing in a pub in New Cross! It all seemed a bit surreal frankly.

The capacity (circa 250) crowd was more diverse than expected. Plenty of younger people and women. Not just wall-to-wall, old bald fat blokes - which was refreshing to see.

Apparently drummer Kevin Rankin had recently done his back in, and from my vantage point right at the very front I could see him struggling a couple of times during the set. Not that it noticeably affected his delivery any, with plenty of stick twirls thrown in to entertain the kids.

A Flock Of Seagulls 2022    A Flock Of Seagulls 2022   
A Flock Of Seagulls 2022

Photos [L-R]: A Flock Of Seagulls

Lead guitarist Gord Deppe had just a hint of the famous 'Flock mop'. He kept complaining about weather not being like it is in Florida. (Duh, this is London in April, despite global warming!)
I still forget just how motorik Telecommunication is, especially live. The crowd response on The More You Live, The More You Love genuinely seemed to impress the band. When all the multi-layered parts of those classics are performed live today, all the key elements are just as distinctive, collectively adding to the still impressive impact. You really appreciate just how good those original songwriters were.

Several songs were given the extended version treatment and all versions were excellent. The extended 12" remixes from back in the day were equally effective then and the long, expansive versions performed live today really work.

The joyful energy in such a compact space was tangible. Taking a moment to turn around to look back into the audience, it was obvious the band was being greeted by lots of smiles, positivity and love in the room.

A Flock Of Seagulls 2022    A Flock Of Seagulls 2022

Photos [L-R]: A Flock Of Seagulls

Lead vocalist Mike Score may be the only remaining original member when the band tours live, and his voice is clearly well beyond its prime, but it doesn't really matter that much.

Honestly, the songs are just so bloody good. Although I do still confuse them for each other from time to time. Guitarist Deppe said he's toured around the world with them for five years and has never heard the audience sing the guitar parts before. It was that kind of evening.

If you're dedicated, patient enough and the band keeps going, maybe you too can see one of your favourite bands from the 1980s playing in a pub as well one day.

Setlist: Telecommunication, The More You Live, The More You Love, Modern Love Is Automatic, Hearts on Fire, Space Age Love Song, Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You), I Ran Encore: Messages, Space Age Love Song


Review + Photos: Rob Dyer