Latitude FestivalLive Music/GigMusicReviewSouth East

LATITUDE 2016: Declan McKenna

Venue: The Lake Stage
Reviewer: Andy Moseley


‘First time we were here, we were on a tiny stage somewhere over there, and now here we are headlining on a Saturday evening’, Coldplay, Kasabian, Arcade Fire, the number of bands who have come out with this quote is almost as long as the list of festival headliners. Add in the acts who get to Wembley or the 02 and talk about their first London gig above a pub in Camden and it becomes almost endless. Give it a few more years, and Declan McKenna may well be a name to add to the list.

The 2015 winner of the Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition, McKenna is only 17 but is already someone who thinks and acts every inch the star. And not a star in the making either, as he already behaves like the finished article, jumping down from the stage and walking along high-fiving the front row mid-set, even though the crowd was probably only a couple of hundred strong.

As for the music, it’s a delightful blend of pop and sing-along indie with occasional references to early Depeche Mode on some of the more synth-based tracks. Brazil, the track that first brought him to wider attention when he uploaded a demo of it to his Bandcamp site last year, is a highlight, but it is not alone, as more recent release Paracetamol and pretty much every song in the 35 minute set stands alongside it as slices of infectious pop that are perfect for a warm summer evening. Backed by an excellent group of young musicians, they put many more established acts to shame with the tightness of the set and the enthusiasm they show for the task in hand.

McKenna has a great future in front of him, and seems bound to attract the interest of Radio 1 for Sound of 2017 if this is anything to go by. When he does makes it on to the headline slot on the main stage, 6.30 on a Sunday at the Lake Stage in 2016 will be a place a couple of hundred people have very fond memories of.

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The South East team is under the editorship of Nicole Craft. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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