The talented eighteen-year-old, Declan McKenna, took to the Birmingham O2 Institute on Saturday 28 October in front of a fanatical crowd ranging from pre-teens and their parents to young adults.
McKenna won Glastonbury festival’s Emerging Talent Competition back in 2015 and has recently released his debut album What Do You Think About the Car? this year to a successful reception. The High Wycombe artist brought his indie-pop music to the Digbeth stage to a crowd warmed up on 80’s pop hits.
The singer-songwriter gave a strong delivery of the slower songs such as ‘Make Me Your Queen’ and ‘Listen To Your Friends (LTYF)’, utilising crystal clear vocals in direct resemblance to the original tracks. ‘LTYF’ incorporated the political bridge touching on the country’s problems with “welfare”, “free healthcare”, “poor kids who can’t afford the train fare”. The audience convincingly sang out the lyrics, clearly showing the influence of McKenna’s music already.
Wearing a white jumpsuit with glitter on his face, McKenna went into the crowd-pleasing ‘Isombard’, performed with a twist on the original recorded song to quicken the tempo. Changes to the track were, overall, welcomed by the energetic crowd; however, for me, it was met with dislike as I would take a preference for the original recording of the song.
The singer’s breakthrough hit ‘Brazil’ is an attack on FIFA corruption written for his Music GCSE
Somewhere in between, the singer remarked that he and the band had coordinated to dress as a specific French band, suggestively one that dresses all in white. An “Oh, Jeremy Corbyn” chant erupted between songs to the melody of ‘Seven Nation Army’, mimicking the same chant that appeared at the artist’s set at Glastonbury festival this year. The chant quickly turned into the praising “Oh, Declan McKenna”.
The singer’s breakthrough hit ‘Brazil’, an attack on FIFA corruption written for his Music GCSE, was performed with ease and flare that you would not expect from an emerging young artist, only displaying McKenna’s talent even further. The feel good and catchy track was played just as a fan in the crowd raised up a Brazil flag with their hands.
Watching McKenna was akin to watching a kid enjoying himself, having genuine fun on stage dancing and using his interchanging guitars for sword-like fighting with his guitarist aside him. The eighteen-year-old closed the show with effortless crowd surfing to a screaming reception.