ON the basis of their catchy hit singles, the Go-Go’s and a Flock of Seagulls, who shared the bill Tuesday at Madison Square Garden, have become leading commercial lights of minimalist post-new-wave rock.
The Go-Go’s, the all-woman quintet from Los Angeles, became America’s pop sweethearts with their lighthearted blend of oldfashioned girl-group harmonies and surf music and newer-fashioned punk.
A Flock of Seagulls, a quartet from Liverpool, makes danceable, synthesizer-oriented rock that compacts psychedelia and electropop into robotic singing telegrams for the space age.
But if these two acts represent a commercial breakthrough for the new, neither was able to conquer the Garden’s notoriously tricky acoustics. As headliners, the Go-Go’s, who had opened successfully for the Police some months ago, musically fell apart. Poor mixing muddied the sound, making most of the lyrics unintelligible, and the quintet could barely keep time. Without its usually spunky precision, the Go-Go’s music lost most of its charm. Several times, the lead singer, Belinda Carlisle, broke into a strident shout that was painfully out of character with the material.
A Flock of Seagulls fared a little better, though the set was swamped with synthesizer noise. The two catchiest songs, ”I Ran” and ”Space Age Love Song,” however, were at least coherent. But one came away from the concert wondering if such small-scaled, cluboriented music like that of both groups is really appropriate to an arena.