It’s a rain-laden Tuesday night in Brighton and a swarm of sopping teens pile into Declan McKenna‘s sold-out Patterns show to seek shelter and see their newest idol conclude his first UK headline tour. Inside, the excitement is palpable amid the venue’s thick purple mist, as the room fills with the next generation of live music junkies eagerly awaiting their figurehead.
The lights dim, the sound engineer’s Spotify filler fades from earshot and memory, and the Hertfordshire singer-songwriter arrives to caterwauling cheers, sporting facial glitter and dungarees that recall Marc Bolan during T. Rex‘s Top of the Pops-dominating peak.
The BBC Music Sound Of 2017 nominee may be suffering with a little tour finale fatigue and illness, but you wouldn’t know it: opener ‘Isombard’ is a beautifully chaotic mix of Game Boy synths, wonky guitar lines and dizzying refrains, delivered with vigour and purpose. So much vigour and purpose, in fact, that the front row barrier topples during its frenetic climax.
Health and safety is a source of concern thereafter for Declan McKenna, who’s a noticeably more polished performer than he was during his anarchic first set at The Great Escape Festival last year. The balance between showmanship and sound reproduction is just right tonight and third single ‘Bethlehem’ benefits from such, proving to be tighter, more infectious and more majestic than ever before.
Even greater heights are reached during the set’s unmissable conclusion, with euphoric singalong ‘The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home’, off-kilter slow build ‘Parecetomol’ and indie pop earwormer ‘Brazil’ dispatched one after the other. During the latter, three men hold up the front barrier as the song’s glorious refrain and an avalanche of balloons send the crowd into overdrive. It’s a surreal night for Declan McKenna, but one that cements his place as a must-see talent.