Comment Editor Colette Fountain reviews Declan McKenna’s live show, describing the night as a memorable testament to his talent and showmanship

Comment Editor and 3rd Year English Literature Student
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Given the number of times Declan McKenna has delayed and postponed this tour over the last year, it is safe to say that I was exceptionally excited to finally see him live at the O2 Academy Birmingham on 24th September – and I was not disappointed.

The gig was introduced by CMAT, an artist I previously had not heard of but who I ended up loving. Some of my favourite songs of hers included ‘I wanna be a cowboy, baby!’ based on the iconic vine and ‘2 wrecked 2 care.’ She performed one of her songs using an omni-chord which was something I had never seen played at a concert but which really enhanced her performance.

Then Declan arrived. In many ways I was looking forward to seeing him as a performer rather than as a singer because although he does have a great voice, I knew he was going to put on a show.

Declaring ‘Let’s fucking go’ and beginning with ‘Beautiful Faces,’ Declan maintained an energy throughout his show which would be difficult to match. The use of lighting throughout was exceptional, something I rarely notice with live performances, as he bounced light off disco balls into the audience, casting a unique spotlight on stage.

Even though I was in the balcony seats, the energy of the show was incredible and could be felt throughout the entire arena

Declan has a relatively limited repertoire of music, having only released two albums so I did wonder if it might at times feel slow or boring but I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that he managed to get through most of his major songs, ensuring that fans of both his classics (like ‘Brazil’) and his newer music from the album Zeros, enjoyed the show.

Even though I was in the balcony seats, the energy of the show was incredible and could be felt throughout the entire arena. People sang along to nearly every song (although the newly released ‘My House’ was clearly less well known,) and the encouragement for the encore was phenomenal.

Songs like ‘Rapture’ featured the people in the stalls dancing along with Declan McKenna who looked like he was having the time of his life on stage. With the audience singing along, Declan would often change the pitch of his vocals, creating harmonies in a way that I found particular interesting and which made the show feel more special and less like just hearing his albums live (which still would have been great) instead adding a sense of newness to his music.

I also want to take a moment to acknowledge the sheer talent of Declan’s band

I also want to take a moment to acknowledge the sheer talent of Declan’s band as I feel it is rare for me to notice instrumentals but the keyboardist was beyond amazing and is such an integral part of Declan’s music.

While Declan played the guitar (both electric and acoustic) for the majority of the gig, he did play piano for ‘Be an Astronaut’ in a performance which I found to be one of the most enjoyable. I am not sure what it is specifically about Declan as a performer but it reminds me of some of the classics like Freddie Mercury in the way that he can command a stage and is truly unforgettable.

Declan returned shirtless for his encore, singing his most famous songs like ‘Why Do You Feel So Down?’ and ending with my personal favourite ‘British Bombs,’ another one which got a lot of crowd engagement as people joined in to shout ‘Great Britain won’t stand for felons / Great British bombs in the Yemen.’

Overall the show was one which I will remember for a long time. Declan has always been an artist I have been desperate to see live just because of his talent at performing so I am really glad I can finally cross that off my list of live shows to see and hopefully will one day get the opportunity to see him again after he releases what I am sure will be another fantastic album.

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