Before he even stepped onto the stage, it was clear that Declan McKenna had Columbus, Ohio wrapped around his sequined bedecked wrist.
Declan McKenna made a pitstop in Columbus, Ohio on his Zeros Tour to celebrate the 2020 release of the Zeros album. The line to enter the venue wrapped around the block and back in onto itself, but the idea of hearing Declan live made the near forty-minute wait and the quickly dropping temperatures more than easy to handle. While the show wasn’t sold out like all the other stops on the North American tour, it was damn near close. The floor and upstairs balcony were jammed packed and almost impossible to weasel your way through, many people residing in unconventional spots along the walls, perched on the railing just to attempt to see over the mass of people. Before he even stepped onto the stage, it was clear that Declan McKenna had Columbus, Ohio wrapped around his sequined bedecked wrist.
The Zeros’ Tour setlist is made up of newer releases like “Beautiful Faces,” “Rapture,” and “Be an Astronaut,” along with fan-favorite older songs like “British Bombs,” “The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home,” and of course “Brazil.” Declan brought the energy with this setlist; running around the stage and jumping on anything he could manage, bringing more life to the already upbeat tracks of the night.
Declan McKenna has a forceful and intentional way of singing – nothing is strained, but you can feel the power and purpose behind his words and at the same time it all seems so easy for him. The production and beat behind Declan’s lyrics, which he primarily pens himself, is reminiscent of 70s classics with songs like “Space Oddity” by David Bowie and “Bennie and the Jets” by Elton John. The neo-psychedelia and dream pop characteristics of synth-heavy music and emphasis on sonic & atmosphere texture are ever present in Declan’s discography. The near trancelike feeling Declan’s music has is even more powerful live, especially when the energy of an excited crowd is added to the mix.
The show closed out with a blessed five-song encore featuring Declan’s adored song “Brazil,” as the penultimate tune of the night. The song brought the singer into the public eye in 2015 when he won the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition and landed a spot and record deal at the beloved Glastonbury Music Festival later that year. “Brazil” is one of many protest songs in Declan’s discography, this one criticizing FIFA and the 2014 FIFA World Cup that occurred in Brazil. Many of McKenna’s other tracks surround other topics and themes such as xenophobia (“Isobard”), war (“British Bomb”), and religion (“Bethlehem”). The poppy and upbeat production of Declan McKenna’s music often contradicts the deep and layered meaning of his lyrics. However, not every one of Declan’s songs requires a thorough analysis to cherish - songs such as “Why Do You Feel So Down,” and “Beautiful Faces” are just as catchy and lively.
Declan McKenna is an absolute joy to watch on stage, the magic he creates is captivating. Declan is an immeasurable singer and performer, and he has beautifully brought some of the most beloved music genres and sounds into the new age. If there is one artist you need to see live in your lifetime, it’s definitely Declan McKenna.
Relive Declan McKenna's concert in Columbus, Ohio below with photos by Lucy Jones
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