REVIEW gig Declan Mckenna Birmingham Institute 2

Declan McKenna Shines Whilst Supporting Mystery Jets

My immediate thought when I first heard that up-and-comer Declan McKenna was to be touring with Mystery Jets was that the combination was genius. McKenna has an air about him reminiscent of the early naughties bohemian, forest-dwelling brand of indie that Mystery Jets helped invent, whilst also being a thoroughly unique and talented musician and songwriter in his own right.

So the promise of seeing these two great acts one after another - whom would inevitably compliment each other due to travelling on a similar wavelength - to me prophesied a great night of music that I didn't want to miss. And after recently catching McKenna in Nottingham’s uber intimate venue The Bodega, I was excited to see how he would fair at a much larger venue.

Birmingham’s Institute 2 was brimming by the time McKenna and his accompanying band members took to the stage (which so happened to be suitably adorned with fairy lights).

Within his six song set McKenna showcased a diverse range of standout songs, ranging from previously released singles to live debuts. Latest single ‘Paracetamol’ was played and sung with soft sentiment in the verses, whilst gaining volume in the chorus as the high energy instrumentals emphasized the poignant lyrics. Whilst new song ‘Why Do You Feel So Down?’ emanated a danceable beat and brooding vocals, and political anthem and crowd pleaser ‘Brazil’ was delivered in a fun manner, yet with intrinsic passion.

The crowd responded with energy and enthusiasm to each of McKenna's songs (there may or may not have even been a man waving around his crutches in appreciation of the music). And it took but only five minutes of McKenna’s set for the seated and ‘patiently-waiting-for-the Mystery-Jets-to-come-on’ audience members at the back of the venue to decide to come forward and join the crowd - pulled in by the infectious live performance that McKenna and his band were offering.

McKenna appeared very much at ease with being on stage and managed to put on a great musical performance whilst visibly having fun with it - the latter particularly evident in his hilarious banter between songs. He bravely ended the night with a stage dive, and as he and his band members exited the stage there was left no doubt from the cheers that McKenna had won over the Birmingham crowd.

And it wasn’t only the audience that were taken by him; when Mystery Jets finally hit the stage they were quick to sing McKenna’s praises, actively encouraging their fans to embrace him and his music in the same manner that it was clear the band had done themselves.

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