Declan Mckenna Live: A Review

By Helen Jaques

On Tuesday, October 11, English singer-songwriter Declan Mckenna took the stage in Massachusetts for the second time in his career. His performance took place at The Sinclair, a live music venue located in Harvard Square, with a maximum audience capacity of 525 people. 

Although the concert was set to begin at 8:00, Mckenna’s opener began around 8:30, after much impatience and anticipation from the crowd. Mckenna’s opening act, Annie DiRusso, is a rising Indie- Rock artist who has been gaining popularity while opening for Mckenna, as well as through social media. DiRusso was raised in Brooklyn, as some of her songs mention, but currently resides in Nashville. Her music reflects the influence of both cities on her life, and the growth she has made as an individual. Some of DiRusso’s most well-known songs include, “Nine Months”, “Coming Soon”, and “Don’t Swerve”, which she performed with outstanding energy on stage. However, my personal favorite was her song, “Infinite Jest”, which has a much lower key tone, unusual for her typical style. DiRusso explained that this particular song was written during an unhealthy past relationship, which she is now able to reflect on through her music. Entering the stage at the same time as the rest of her band, DiRusso quickly proved to have a significant connection with one person in particular: her guitarist, Eden Noisy. During the instrumental parts of each of her songs, she and Eden would dance together on stage, absorbed in the music and each other’s company. 

Once the opening performance had finished, there was a 20-minute gap before Declan Mckenna appeared on stage. The anticipation among the crowd built up again until Mckenna’s “Beautiful Faces” started to play and his performance began. As Mckenna noted in between songs, the first time he played in Massachusetts he was only 18 years old, and “much more boisterous”, having attempted dangling from a balcony overlooking the stage. Today, Mckenna is 23 years old and does not attempt such precarious moves. His setlist included songs from each of his albums, ranging in spirit and popularity. A few of my personal favorites: “Sagittarius A*”, “Isombard”, “Humongous”, and “Listen to your friends”, were brought to life on stage with incredible vocals and a laid-back confidence few artists can achieve. His more popular songs such as, “Why Do You Feel So Down”, “The Key to Life on Earth”, and “Make Me Your Queen”, were also performed with a slight spin on the released versions, perhaps due to the freedom of performing songs much of the crowd already knew. However, Mckenna exited the stage before performing his most popular song, of which the audience had all been waiting for, “Brazil”. 

After a few moments of chanting and cheering among the crowd, the concert was brought back to life as Mckenna reappeared to end his concert with this song. His signature vocals and voice crack on the last line wrapped up his performance perfectly, making the concert everything the audience had hoped it would be.

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