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Declan McKenna and Opener Eli Smart Fire Up Rhode Island’s Fete Music Hall [Photos]

Declan McKenna come to Providence, Rhode Island, with opener Eli Smart, and the sold-out show fired up everyone at Fete Music Hall.



Declan McKenna on July 19, 2023, photo by Kenzie Magnan

As a Rhode Islander, it’s rare to see immense talent come to such a small state. We’re used to shipping up to Boston or Hartford to catch a live show, so it was a real treat to see someone like Declan McKenna come to Providence. The show sold out quickly, and the line along the building to enter was huge. One of the more exciting things about Providence’s small Fete Music Hall is that it’s a very intimate setting. You’ll always be extremely close to the stage and on more than one occasion, I’ve been able to meet the talent outside before the show.

Opening for Declan McKenna was Eli Smart, a young singer-songwriter with an “aloha soul.” If the Beatles were Hawaiian, he would be a shoo-in. Backed by long-time friends Jordan Paul (vocals), Hamster (drums), and his own grandmother (bass), Eli set the tone for the night: an all-out feel-good jam sesh. The crowd particularly took a liking to his grandmother, who he affectionately calls “Tutu,” and the fans chanted her name randomly throughout the set. After hearing his music, it made perfect sense that he was on tour with Declan McKenna as the two artists have a very similar and distinct sound. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for what Eli does in the future.

Declan McKenna entered the stage in a full striped suit, donned with a tie and black sunglasses with yellow tint. His style was both thrifty and extravagant as he opened up with “The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home.” I’ve noticed that most small and local venues tend to attract concertgoers who are there for the fun of it all, but don’t really know the band. This show was the exception. Each person in the venue was singing every word. His most popular song “Brazil” had the floor shaking. I just missed Declan at Boston Calling Music Festival, so I was ecstatic to finally see him live. He ended the set with an encore of “All Things Must Pass” and “British Bombs.”

The band is only about halfway through the “The Big Return” tour, so there’s plenty of time to catch Declan in action. The tour will continue through November moving away from the east coast to hit the midwest before ending off on the west coast. I was blown away by his performance and this is definitely a show you want to catch if you have the opportunity.