Declan McKenna brings celestial show to The Sinclair

At times, it felt less like McKenna was singing to the crowd and more as if he was having a conversation with them.


Credit: Josie Dent

Josie Dent, Contributing Writer

With the release of his second album, “Zeros,” Declan McKenna cemented himself as an iconic singer/songwriter in the music industry and a voice for the youth. Constantly referencing space (and space-lasers) in his music, and donning a glitzy, glittery wardrobe, he brings essences of glam-rock to his brand whilst maintaining a unique and original sound. His futuristic look and use of lyrics critiquing the workings of society give him the appearance of a messenger from a not-so-far-off dystopian society. 

On October 11th, he made an appearance at The Sinclair in Cambridge. A line of fans stretched from the door around the block. Concertgoers donned glitter on their faces, as McKenna so often does. 

Inside, the small venue was packed, the audience stretched up to the mezzanine.

Although the wait for the show was long, it was well worth it. McKenna entered with a bang. As anticipation began to build up, the Beatles track “With a Little Help From My Friends” began playing over the speakers, slowly becoming more and more distorted until a mechanical voice introduced McKenna. 

Photo by Josie Dent.

The crowd erupted as he began with “Beautiful Faces,” the fourth song on the “Zeros” album. A glittery gold guitar hung from his shoulders, perfectly matching the glitzy fashion he’s known for. The song was a perfect choice to open with, setting a zealous tone for the rest of the show to follow. McKinley encouraged the crowd to lift their hands up in time with the music, boosting the energy of the crowd. A surreal, checkered background served as the backdrop for the show.

Although McKenna had played larger venues during the tour, the intimacy of the Sinclair worked in his favor. Even those on the mezzanine were relatively close to the action. His presence filled the packed room as he danced and twirled across the stage. 

Throughout the entire performance, McKenna was masterful in his build-up of tension. He had no problem stepping away from the microphone, allowing excitement to gather before rushing forward again and energetically singing. 

At times, felt less like McKenna was singing to the crowd and more as if he was having a conversation with them. He was flamboyant, pantomiming some of his lyrics. Throughout the show, McKenna gesticulated, placed his hands on his hips, rolled his eyes, and sang certain lyrics with clear cynicism or sarcasm. During the energetic “You’d Better Believe!!” McKenna sang the lyrics, “Nike trainers, comfort you can feel,” with a wink and slight shake of the head. 

McKenna ended with “Be an Astronaut,” playing his keyboard on a slightly raised platform in the middle of the stage. A single spotlight illuminated the golden highlight on his face as he looked out into the crowd. He closed the show with the same boyish energy he had been displaying all night. 

After he left the stage, the crowd was far from done. Chanting McKenna’s name over and over, they burst into cheers and screams as he reappeared for a five-song encore. 

If McKenna had been lively during the first part of the show, it was nothing compared to the zeal with which he performed during the encore. Beginning with “Daniel, You’re Still a Child,” McKenna jumped and twirled across the stage. The crowd fed off of the energy, jumping up and down and loudly singing along. 

Photo by Josie Dent.

The finale, “Great British Bombs,” was truly the best performance of the night. McKenna switched to an electric guitar with the British flag on it. Jumping up and down, he brought the crowd to life. He spun and bopped across the stage before smashing the guitar to bits- but he wasn’t finished yet. McKenna took to the front right corner of the stage, barely out of reach of the crowd. They swarmed him, hands outstretched, as he towered above. Finally, he went back to his keyboard, standing up on it while continuing to sing. As the song came to an end, he held his arms above him before leaping down, bowing to the crowd with exaggerated movements. He blew a kiss, waved his hands, and left the stage. 

The intense atmosphere, confined to such a small space, left a lasting impression on the crowd. McKenna brought such an amazing experience to all that night at the Sinclair.