Review: Declan Mckenna Live from London's Brixton Academy

Declan McKenna lights up Brixton academy with this captivating, powerful show.

Review: Declan Mckenna Live from London's Brixton Academy

Declan Mckenna is a 23-year-old indie pop-rock artist who's taken the music industry by storm in recent years. In celebration of his latest album Zeros, Declan took to the stage at London’s iconic Brixton Academy for two nights, the second of which was filmed. Known for his glittery makeup, high energy tracks and social commentary this show certainly didn't disappoint.

With his black sparkling suit, gold guitar and silver makeup Declan opened the night with Beautiful Faces, an 80s soaked party tune ensuring the crowd were ready for a night like no other. Sonically the track has heavy synth usage whilst Declan’s high vocals add atmosphere to the track before a classic rock solo pours out over the audience.

As for the stage itself, a black and white checkerboard background with a few disco balls dotted around the stage was all the set dressing the 23-year-old (or rather 22 at the time) needed to put on a show.

With the fans warmed up, the band flowed into Rapture. Whilst the track has similarities to Beautiful Faces, the chorus is somewhat more catchy as the crowd seem to become infected with the same impressive energy Declan had brought to the stage.

Dowsed in blue lighting, Sagittarius A* slowed down the evening with a more melodic verse that had everybody instantly invested. Whilst Declan may indeed be proving he is ready for the big area, it’s clear that he is the rockstar of the young. The crowd sings and dances vigorously to every word, guitar solo and drum beat. This is a crowd of unity and peace with a love of indie music that runs alongside. 

As the crowd scream “Oh Declan McKenna” in unison, single and fan favourite Key To Life On Earth starts to fill the room. Despite a slight voice crack midway through the song, yellow lighting and a roaring guitar solo set the evening alight as Declan admits “I love playing that one, thank you so much”. On the other hand, though, My House turned the evening into a woozy peaceful time for a few minutes allowing a break in the setlist from bold electric guitar segments. 

We also hear Listen To Your Friends, the end track for his debut album What Do You Think About The Car? The song was penned around themes of depression and the climate crisis, ultimately telling a story of how his friends are the reason he can get out of bed in the morning. The most memorable part of the song for many, however, is the verse in which Declan talk-sings about the problems which the youth face, calling out the dismal treatment of the poor and the minds of the bigots as the crowd enthusiastically shout “The problem is poor kids who can't afford the train fare, so we up the train fare and charge them for not paying the train fare”.

You Better Believe!!! was also one of the most impactful moments in the show, its unapologetic enthusiasm mixed with Declan’s passionate vocals commanding stage presence, and a stream of strobe lighting entice the crowd to throw their arms in the air and jump in unison to the back of the hall like nothing but this song mattered. 

The hall goes dark as the band exits the stage. The crowd screamed for more Declan, and his band were only too happy to oblige. As the night draws to a close the politically charged anthem British Bombs is tasked with leaving a final impression on the crowd. Covered in confetti the young crowd at Brixton Academy bounced up and down like never before. 

Declan’s self-assured showmanship oozed from start to finish creating a safe and welcoming space for fans to let go to the sound of 80s infused indie rock

Header Image Credit: Stars Are Underground from France


Faith Martin

Faith Martin Kickstart

Faith worked as a freelance journalist for a year after finishing her studies at Portsmouth College, writing for a number of esteemed publications as well as running her own music blog before joining Voice Magazine as a Kickstart Trainee Journalist. An avid vinyl collector and gig-goer, Faith also campaigns for disability rights and better disabled access at live music events.

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