DECLAN McKenna experienced something of a full circle moment last night.

Nine years ago, the 25-year-old Londoner won his place at Glastonbury Festival by winning its Emerging Talent Competition, with the judges describing him as “precociously talented”.

That came after they heard Brazil, an indie rock song about a FIFA corruption case that was mature beyond the years of the teenager he was at the time.

His win earned him a slot on the Woodsies stage (then named after former Radio 1 DJ John Peel), plus a £5,000 cash prize.

Declan McKenna, pictured performing at Radio 1's Big Weekend last month.Declan McKenna, pictured performing at Radio 1's Big Weekend last month. (Image: Ian West/PA)

He’s since released three studio albums and performed at more Glastonburys than he can count, including a set on the Other Stage in 2022.

And he returned to ‘where it all began’ on Friday evening to perform to a packed tent.

What’s immediately striking about McKenna and his band is they are simply, effortlessly cool.

He entered the stage in a pink jacket, patterned tie (no shirt needed) and blue trousers, electric guitar in hand, and immediately started playing the crowd.

“Whatever happens in the next hour that we’ve got together… just keep breathing,” he said before launching into a set with a “bit of everything” from his catalogue.

Brazil and British Bombs brought out some pyrotechnics.Brazil and British Bombs brought out some coloured smoke flares. (Image: Newsquest)

He opened his set with Elevator Hum from his latest album, What Happened to the Beach, and reeled off around a dozen hits in his hour on stage.

The jacket didn’t last long – he ditched it to cheers after Mulholland's Dinner and Wine – and he skilfully overcame a broken microphone with good humour as he tried to address the crowd before playing Isombard.

“Glastonbury, I’m not sure we’re ready for the night ahead. Prove it!”, he yelled at one point, before he later told the crowd: “This is my fifth year performing at Glastonbury… I think.

“I’ve lost count. Few more heads this time around than last time I was on this stage!”

Predictably, the crowd’s energy turned electric when they heard the first chords of Brazil; a smoke bomb went off, hundreds of phones were held above their owner’s heads and one enthusiastic fan happily waved her Brazilian flag.

Brazil re-entered the UK charts after going viral on TikTok in 2022.Brazil entered the UK charts after going viral on TikTok in 2022. (Image: Newsquest)

He brought the curtain down with the powerful, politically charged British Bombs – a very ‘Glastonbury’ song given its inspiration comes from the British arms trade (“Great Britain won’t stand for felons; Great British bombs in the Yemen”) and the festival’s long history of campaigning for peace.

McKenna is, ultimately, a very impressive performer who has earnt his place on stages bigger than this one.

But there’s something about Woodsies – with its near-enclosed tent and feverish atmosphere – which, combined with his energy and talent, helped make his an early contender for my set of the weekend.