Gig Review: Declan McKenna & Wet Leg

Anna Carson reviews Declan McKenna's headline show at Newcastle's O2 City Hall, celebrating one year of Zeros.

Anna Carson
10th September 2021
Image: Instagram @takenbystorm_photography

On the 1st birthday of his second studio album Zeros, Declan McKenna performed at the O2 City Hall in Newcastle for a huge crowd of eager fans.

The singer from London found musical recognition after winning Glastonbury’s Emerging Talent Competition in 2015, at the age of 16, and soon after signed with Columbia Records. Despite numerous delays due to COVID, Zeros was released on 4th September 2020 and debuted at No.2 on the UK charts, featuring a mixture of energetic rock, some slower acoustic guitars and interesting synths.

The crowd featured a varied array of fans, with anyone from teenage girls to older men appearing amongst those eager to watch Declan. The line to get into the venue stretched around the whole building and looped back on itself, serving as a visual testimony to Declan’s impact on the contemporary indie music scene.

About an hour after doors opened Wet Leg took the stage to open the gig, performing a roaring, bass and drum heavy set, peppered with humorous lyrics and paired well with a dry, often aloof delivery from singer Rhian Teasdale. Although the crowd seemed largely unfamiliar with Wet Leg, their fast-paced style worked well to generate hype within the crowd and displayed a catchy array of mostly unreleased songs.

Image: Instagram @takenbystorm_photography

Then the lights dimmed, suspenseful music played, and the crowd went practically feral as Declan’s touring band entered the stage. The intro transitioned into ‘Beautiful Faces,’ - the lead single from Zeros - allowing the crowd to dance along to the thumping drums which are prevalent on the track.

His setlist was largely made up of tracks from Zeros, although Declan threw in a few fan favourites from his debut album What Do You Think About the Car? such as ‘Isombard’ and ‘Humongous’ but by far the song which generated the biggest reaction from the crowd was ‘Brazil.’ The audience seemed to be more excited to hear these songs from What Do You Think About the Car? than the Zeros album tracks, which was slightly disappointing to see on its birthday, but despite this, it was clear that the crowd loved the gig.

Image: Instagram @marcusprousejr

Declan sounds almost identical live as he does on his studio recordings, he appeared to have an endless source of energy as he ran around the stage all while singing, and his passion for music was evident throughout the set. It is clear watching Declan perform that he is a talented artist, and it will be exciting to see what direction his music will take next.

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