What Happened to the Beach, the newest record from Mercury Prize winning singer-songwriter Declan McKenna, has finally arrived in the ears of music lovers worldwide, and to celebrate, its being taken on tour!
McKenna’s aiming to finally claim his first Number 1 album after narrowly missing out on two previous attempts; the reaction to his new material so far has been a real success and things are looking hopeful for the musician. Ahead of his full UK & EU tour commencing next month, the 25-year-old rockstar has taken to various UK towns & cities for a series of gigs where he’ll show off the best of his new release to smaller, more intimate audiences.
Ahead of tonight’s performance at the Trowbridge Civic Centre, for an expected audience of 600, McKenna, who is a boyhood Tottenham Hotspur FC fan, had performed his track Nothing Works to a packed-out Tottenham Hotspur Stadium during halftime of their afternoon match; talk about making your dreams become a reality! It was then a race down to the West-Country for Declan in time to put on a spectacular display for an excited, eager audience who were ready for a much-needed flavour of summer.
The dimming lights were greeted with electric cheers from the crowd, as McKenna and his band settled triumphantly onto the stage. An ecstatic greeting of “Trowvegas!” (A commonly joked nickname for the town we’re in) hyped the fans for the opener, as he kicked off with the sunny sounds of Elevator Hum, his fourth single from the new record. McKenna was successful with gripping the crowd right from the off, as the chilled groove of his guitar had his audience moving immediately; it’s evident that this number will be an unmissable summer anthem this year.
The conclusion of the opener allowed Declan to properly address his crowd for the first time, as he showed appreciation for the support of his new release, and for attending tonight’s show. He wasted no time in throwing the audience into some huge tracks which followed, the expertly executed Nothing Works (His second performance of this track today) and the restless sublimity of The Phantom Buzz (Kick In), both serving as a reminder of just how good McKenna is live.
The setlist just kept getting better and was full of incredible tracks which had the crowd hooked. The beloved track Make Me Your Queen went down a treat to the loyal fans in the audience, a song which they closely connected with, and a number sung with such effortless professionalism from McKenna. The slower segment of the set continued with the sombre It’s an Act, a newer piece of material which saw his two band members settle onto the two deck chairs either side of the stage. As Declan sang, his fans swayed, as they felt every lyric come straight from his heart and tap into many of the teenage emotions layered within; it was a beautiful performance.
As any remaining tears were wiped away, McKenna dived us right back into the thick of his pacey, quirky numbers with Sympathy. The track is simple unforgettable, and the crowd knew exactly what was expected from them as they belted out the chorus in awe of this epic track. The Anthem is the pinnacle of much of McKenna’s material, with that distinctive warmth within it that jets you off to a tropical island. The first offering of McKenna’s newest record, Wobble, was next in line and is a “personal favourite” according to the singer as he introduced it. The combination of McKenna’s coolly played guitar and successful adjusting of his backing synth & bass interface throughout made for a seamless performance as McKenna once again boasted the best of his new material to the Trowbridge crowd, who were still gripped by the showman.
A personal favourite of mine from the new record, Mulholands Dinner & Wine, was the next track to be introduced, and was once again met by that of joy and excitement. The psychedelic, dreamy atmosphere surrounding this number successfully taps into the “new world” created by McKenna and truly is one of his more unique pieces; it was a flawless performance. The conclusion of this track gave McKenna another opportunity to speak to the crowd, who were still maintaining the high level of energy brought with them. Declan used this opportunity to discuss his new record and suggested that people should buy his CD or Vinyl after the show.
The latter end of the gig was home to some of McKenna’s biggest indie-rock classics yet, as the crowd were taken by surprise as the poignant guitar synths of Brazil began. Throughout this track, one filmed by many enthusiastic fans, Declan’s voice could only scarcely be heard over the hundreds belting out the renown lyrics; it truly was an epic moment. It wouldn’t be over yet, as the ever relevant and boisterous British Bombs followed; the crowd sang with authority and were sure to turn their energy levels up even higher for this chaotic extravaganza! After, the singer retreated before returning with an encore.
At the request of a hopeful fan near the front, Listen to Your Friends would be Trowbridge’s farewell track, a number nothing short of spectacular and a seemingly popular choice for the majority in the room. All too soon was it the end of McKenna’s set, and he departed the stage leaving Trowbridge wanting more. It wouldn’t be a Declan McKenna show if there wasn’t an element of chaos, as the slightest of knocks caused his microphone stand to completely collapse off the stage, which the singer laughed off with the fans as they prepared to leave.
Declan McKenna continues to go from strength to strength, and with his full UK & European Tour commencing next month, there is no doubt he will simply keep getting better and be the sound of your summer once more.