February 19th | SWX
Photos: Jonny Nolan
2019 was a big year for The Murder Capital. It saw them drop their fantastic debut album, When I Have Fears to huge critical acclaim and play to ever-growing audiences over the UK and Europe. As a result, the band’s current tour – by far their biggest yet – almost feels like a victory lap. “It’s only on this tour that things have really gotten crazy,” says frontman James McGovern partway through their SWX show. “We’ve felt a real sense of community.”
In part, I think, it’s The Murder Capital’s relentless sense of energy that ensures audiences keep coming back for more. Despite being neck-deep into their tour at this stage, the band never feel like they’re giving anything less than their all. They kick things off with the roaring anthem ‘More Is Less’, accompanied by violent flashing lights. Built around an ominous, chugging guitar and shouting vocals, it immediately riles up the crowd. The first chorus doesn’t even come around before a circle pit is formed.
The Murder Capital keep up this sense of momentum as they barrel into ‘For Everything’ next. McGovern again leads the charge, stalking around the stage like a Shakespearean actor and shaking his tambourine menacingly. It’s a song that stacks layers of tension on top of each other like Jenga blocks, before knocking it all down in the final stretch. The mood shifts as the song’s anger dissipates into melancholy. As the band quieten down, the audience take over vocal duties from McGovern, chanting the song’s chorus loudly.
There’s also something to be said about how the band present themselves: dressed in shirts and waistcoats, they look as though they’ve been plucked out of a period crime series. If anything, it adds to the sense of drama their music maintains. McGovern croons over every lyric with an unrivalled sense of gravitas, wringing out every syllable. When his voice isn’t needed, he always finds something else to do. During the end of the moody ‘Slowdance’, he lights up a cigarette and smokes it while the rest of the band wind the song down.
“Who had a nice Valentine’s Day?” the frontman says towards the end of the show. After a murmuring response from the crowd, he smiles and says, “Ours was the same, don’t worry.” The band then dive into the tremendous ‘Love, Love, Love’, a song that perfectly balances the band’s tender side with their more raucous one. McGovern leads the song with his baritone Ian Curtis-like croon, before switching to a harsher, more animalistic one on the chorus. It’s this duality – between vulnerability and aggression – that’s core to The Murder Capital’s sound.
Finally, the band close things out with ‘Feeling Fades’. It’s a final chance to rile the crowd up, with McGovern even heading down from the stage to join in at the mosh pit. More than anything, tonight’s performance showed that The Murder Capital are a band that more than live up to the buzz surrounding them. They already sound unstoppable and they’re only one album in. Where to next?
See the video for ‘More Is Less’ here: