Declan McKenna Live In London, Album Launch review.
Having not seen a proper live gig since March of this year, most of us would go to the opening of an envelope if there was live music involved. While there is still no sign of a return to audience-permitted live music, a decimated music industry has been looking at different ways to get live music out to the masses sat at home.
One of the workarounds has been the growth of virtual events with artists setting up anywhere they can… from their bedrooms to empty warehouses. It’s a great option in theory but, as Declan McKenna’s recent launch show for his new album “Zeros” showed, it’s not one without glaring flaws.
With the release delayed twice already, McKenna told fans when announcing the virtual event that he couldn’t wait for fans to hear what he’d been working on for “Zeros” and, come show time, there were over six hundred fans logged in and eager to see McKenna perform the new album in full.
Bursting onto the scene at the age of 16, McKenna quickly made a mark for himself with his debut and, watching him power through the album and a few hits, the songwriter has clearly grown into quite the prospect. Mixing jangly indie with an almost trippy psychedelic aura, tracks like “You Better Believe” and “Be An Astronaut” both play out with a nod to ’70s era David Bowie.
“Zeros” doesn’t sound dated though, it sounds more like the creation of a young man who, as tracks like “Emily” demonstrate, wants to take his influences and bounce them into the minds of his own generation of music fans.
Watching McKenna skip around the stage under a sea of trippy lights and spacey effects, you almost forget that you’re sat in your lounge watching on your laptop/tv but… then it happens. A song ends and, there it is, that awkward silence generated at an event sucked dry of any atmosphere normally generated by that artist/crowd interaction.
“Let’s talk about the greatest band in the world and if it’s not Oasis I’m not interested,” musters up McKenna before laughing uncomfortably at his own effort to create some kind of atmosphere. There is no avoiding it though, above the buzz from the monitors, it’s there like a massive elephant in the room. “Thanks for, err, joining us,” continues McKenna followed by more awkward silence.
Yes, McKenna and his band throw themselves into the set like it is a normal gig but, as McKenna fumbles around between songs for something to say, it’s hard to see it as anything other than a great idea for the immediate months but one that can’t be sustained.
You have to applaud artists like McKenna for tackling these trying times head on. Armed with a brilliant album in “Zeros”, the likes of “The Key To Life On Earth” and “Beautiful Faces” see him put a nice twist to the jangly-indie sound that fans will have heard on plenty of albums over the last few decades.
It’s hard to ignore the Bowie influence throughout the album but Mckenna has never hidden his love of the musical icon and the splash of psychedelia shining through the material makes “Zeros” all that more fun to listen to.
Listening to the direction McKenna has taken on the brilliant “Zeros”, the planned UK tour hopefully taking place in Spring 2021 promises to be very special indeed.
For now though, if you were one of the few hundred fans signed in for this launch night, you were part of something unique but, if you’re like us, you’ll have logged off hoping that this isn’t going to become the norm.
You can read more about his latest release a tour here: https://www.totalntertainment.com/music/be-an-astronaut-new-release-from-declan-mckenna/