Live Reviews: Declan McKenna, Parquet Courts and Blaenavon

Before I begin I must apologise for my lack of output during the last month. I’ve started back at university and also began working for Musicians First (an incredible platform to help aspiring musicians and bands get heard, if this is you – you should definitely check it out!) and I have suddenly found free time much harder to come by. Not that this is an excuse, I’m still listening to music and going to shows, so transcribing the rubbish in my head every now and again shouldn’t be too difficult.

Anyway, back on task, I’ve been to a few shows recently and here are my thoughts.

Declan McKenna @ Nambucca (06/10/2016)

With so much hype and expectation thrust upon you from the age of 15 (the age Declan penned “Brazil”) there’s always going to be some teething issues. Hell, it would be incredible to even know what music you want to make for years to come.

However, Declan seems to revel in this uncertainty and use it to his advantage. The differing styles of his material do nothing more than make his set more encapsulating, the highlight being an, as yet un-released track, that features a spoken word political monologue in the middle. It was enthralling and I can’t wait for the recorded version. He sounds more assured than many of the more established acts on the circuit.

The most important thing is that he still appears to be having the time of his life performing. Savouring the adoration of his noticeably devoted fanbase and the arrival of the Chesterton (his hometown) massive at tonight’s show #sostokedmydudes.

His band are with him every step of the way, putting on a very tight show. I must give a particular shout out to drummer Gabrielle King, who’s energy was matched only by her talent.

All in all, the only thing Declan is did wrong was forget to check the setlist before announcing a song. If that’s his only slip up at this stage of his career, he’s in for one hell of a career.

Listen to some of his music here

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Parquet Courts @ O2 Kentish Town Forum (11/10/2016)

Five albums into their careers, Parquet Courts are basically veterans when compared to Declan McKenna. Selling out the Forum (albeit the last few tickets went on the night) is no mean feat though, especially for a cult band such as Parquet.

At times, it does feel like the venue is too large for them, with a few tracks really failing to capture the entire room. Most notably two stand out tracks from their most recent LP Human Performance, the title track and “Berlin Got Blurry.” Which was surprising.

Despite this, however, the unrivalled energy levels they have built their reputation, and discography, on set the crowd alight. “Master Of My Craft” induced  riotous bedlam and  prompts all 2,300 people to scream “Socrates died in the fucking gutter” with such vigour that even the normally unflappable Austin Brown appears taken a back.

It is a gig littered with unforgettable moments like this: Austin swaggering through “One Man, No City”, the sheer amount of crowd surfers during “Bodies Made Of” and two encores where the band don’t actually leave the stage. There was just also a couple of largely forgettable points, which I’ve already eluded to, that were previously a rarity for Parquet live show.

Listen to some “Berlin Got Blurry” here

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Blaenavon @ The Scala (14/10/2016)

Blaenavon have been around since they released 2013’s Koso EP, before they took a break to complete their A-Levels. They returned with Miss World EP in the autumn of 2015, and now, finally, we are in the countdown towards the release of their debut full length. Frontman Ben Gregory half-sarcastically acknowledges this halfway through the show, taking time to apologise for making us all wait so long.

Tonight though, from the moment the, already iconic, pounding drums of “Hell Is My Head” kick in, there is no need for apologies. Band and fans alike are celebrating. A night to revel in just how good Blaenavon are: A three piece who throw themselves around the stage like the rock stars of old and have the songs to match.  Built on a genuine friendship that is apparent throughout the show – the key to longevity of any band, but is noticeably lacking in some acts these days (take the soulless Catfish and The Bottlemen for example).

For the whole (albeit short) show there is beer everywhere, bodies being flung in all directions and the band doing exactly the same. Gregroy triumphantly crowdsurfing after the encore before returning to the stage to stand arm in arm with Frank and Harris. The look on all of their faces saying quite simply, “Fuck, we’ve made it lads.”

Truly one of the best shows I’ve seen in recent times.

Listen to “I Will Be The World” here

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Were you at any of the gigs? Agree with my thoughts? Have any comments otherwise? I’d love to hear from you on Twitter, Facebook or in the comments!

Hopefully they’ll be more articles soon.

Sachin Turakhia

 

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