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Live review: Declan McKenna and Lisbon @ The Cookie (22/01/16)


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Friday night at The Cookie. Teenagers huddle with glitter on their faces whilst large groups of adults glug back wine like it’s water.

The crowd are in the party mood as the room fills to welcome opener, Declan McKenna.

The young emerging talent from down south is joined by his live band. Together, they look like the clique at school that would accidentally ditch class because they were too busy scratching lyrics into a wall.

Debuting new tracks ‘Why Do You Feel So Down?’, ‘Bethlehem’ and ‘Isombard’, the multi-instrumentalist has an endearing live performance. Echoed electronics and guitar reverb fill the room, brash and loud. Though on stage he and his band reflect awkward eccentricity. Timid between tracks, the music is what gives Declan his confidence.

“He’s bashing the shit outta that guitar!” the guy behind me comments in appreciation. The raucous energy on stage is undeniable, together the band infuse techno and psychedelia and inject alt rock with synth. Backed up by glittered bass and kicking, unapologetic drums; Declan’s vocals can howl or yearn and feel honest. Giving ‘Paracetamol’ a solemn reception.

“If you’re going to know any of these songs, it’s probably this one…” McKenna introduces internet hit ‘Brazil’. Cue phones coming out to record. The charismatic track goes down a treat, just like its giant hook. A solid performance of sonic pop music.

Headliners, Lisbon, storm on stage. The Newcastle lads launch into their rapid live set, tornados of energy. Vocals are clear and bright, oozing exuberance. There’s no need for a warm up. These guys know how they’re working their set.

Their tropical indie sound means that every track is a crowd pleaser. Opener ‘Liberty City’ sets the energetic pace, as Lisbon are unleashed with no intention to stay still. They throw some questionable shapes. “Come to the front so I can see you all dancing!” demands the front-man with a smile and excitement. “It’s Friday night, Leicester!”

Game of Thrones inspired ‘Khaleesi’ grooves with tribal like drums and nifty riffs. Previous single, jangly ‘I Don’t Know’ crashes pulsing drums and enigmatic guitar. Lisbon’s live set is all about the punchy instrumentals and bold vocals that work their way into high impact chants. It encourages you to shout.

Debuting new track ‘Shark’, it’s heavier but still captures the alt pop breeze. Melodic, the crowd nailed the lyrics in no time. Unreleased track ‘Come Down Easy’ is sleek and juicy with bass. They’re flirty with confidence.

Lisbon are the pioneers of euphoric undertones, fuelling their set with adrenaline and a burning passion for their own songs.

If Lisbon were to gate crash a house party, they’d swagger their way into the living room, plug in their instruments and have no filter on the volume. Somebody would end up spewing vibrant colours all over the posh rug.

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