Remember when you were 18 and there was nothing you wanted more than to drop out of education, be a rockstar and tour the world, playing sold out shows and partying every night?

That is exactly the dream Declan McKenna is living.

But that is by no means by luck. Declan has talent, and that is clear the minute he steps onto the stage in front of the sold out Manchester crowd.

The support band, Feet, have done a fine job of warming the audience up.

Although the crowd were just as happy to sing along to Rick Astley and ABBA which were played across the speakers as the stage was set up.

Ah, to be an underage drinker again.

There was a good quarter of an hour where I felt out of place in the room, I felt too old to be here. In a room full of teenagers covered in glitter buzzed off whatever substances they had chosen. I felt old, at the ripe age of 21.

This all changed the minute Declan hit the stage.

Declan Mckenna mid performance

Sarah Louise Bennett / Dork

From the opening song, The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home, it was impossible to feel anything other than pure energy.

Declan is clearly living his dream, and it is obvious in his performance. He makes it clear he is having a good time, and the audience feeds off this.

It wasn’t just the opening song that Declan poured his all into either. Track after track, whether it be the natural sing-a-long that occurs during Mind, or the beer infused dancing during Bethlehem, it was delivered and received with an equal amount of enthusiasm.

One of the perks of having a debut album consisting of nothing but quality tracks, is that your gig setlist is going to be equally as incredible… and everyone present is in for an amazing night.

A moment that stood out during the set, and saw Declan truly shine as a performer, was when he played Humongous. Which is the intense opening track to What Do You Think About the Car?

The song almost seems like it could be two parts, a trait which was interestingly highlighted in its live performance.

The emotional first half delves into the mind of a teenager with lines such as “it’s not fair/that I am nothing and nobody’s there.” This could barely be heard sang by Declan himself, as the crowd sang it back to him with such power. A fact that stands to prove Declan’s songs are indeed being heard by a generation who understands what he is saying.

The second half of the song is an eclectic mix of instruments topped with vocals such as that climatic “I’m gonna throw up/well oh baby when will you grow up.” As he performs this section, the front man throws himself around the stage. The crowd follow this as a cue to go crazy themselves.

In this moment, Declan has the world in the palm of his hand. At least that is what it feels like inside of the Ritz. There are artists who have been in the business for double the time he has, who could only dream of having a stage presence this contagious.

Declan Mckenna performing live

Matt Richardson

Once this song is over, the crowd is electric and hungry for more. Declan is not one to disappoint.

The jumping and screaming doesn’t seem to cease, or even slow down, for the rest of the setlist. Neither do the cups of beer being thrown, of which there seem to be a lot of considering half of the room doesn’t look eligible to purchase them.

When Declan plays Brazil, the song which got him the recognition he has today, you can feel the pride radiate through the room. This is a boy who has worked towards his dream and deservingly achieved it. During this track, the cheers and deafening chorus of an audience yelling the lyrics along prove that there are a lot of people who are glad that he has.

Even with the encore of Listen To Your Friends, a crowd surfing session and the shouts of “Ohhhh Declan McK-ennnna” it is clear that nobody in the room is ready for him to leave. I guess you could say, the kids didn’t want to go home.

While this may be Declan’s biggest gig yet, it is clear that in a couple of years it is going to seem like nothing to the crowds he will be playing to…

Check out Declan’s debut What Do You Think About The Car? here:

Featured Image Credit: Patrick Gunning.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.