17th May | Hy-Brasil
Following on from the incredible success of Fontaines DC and their top ten album Dogrel, come The Murder Capital, another Dublin post-punk band that has arrived on these shores with an impressive reputation. While actual musical output from this band is somewhat thin on the ground at this point, an impressive crowd gathered at Hy-Brasil to see what the fuss was all about.
Anyone coming to this show expecting to hear a replica of Fontaines DC, though, will have quickly realised their error. Sure, there are similarities: like Fontaines, they use the guitar as a descriptive tool, notably on brilliant third song, ‘Love Love Love’, where the screaming, piercing guitar sound accompanies the dour, despairing vocals. Where Fontaines DC overlay a varied sound with evocative, often upbeat tales of the Irish capital, though, The Murder Capital are slower, and darker, but no less fascinating.
The band have an excellent stage demeanour. Singer, James McGovern looks resplendent in black suit and silver tie, giving the image of a mafia boss, fiercely addressing the crowd. There is, however, a feel of democracy within the band, constantly interchanging positions on the stage, and James doesn’t bat an eyelid when a guitar head bonks him on the bonce on the way past – just part of the show. During the long instrumental section on ‘Slow Dance’, James goes to the side and listens, bobbing his head intently with his eyes closed, like a classic anorak listening on the headphones at HMV, while the rest of the band takes centre stage. The passion and togetherness that band has is very clear.
The Murder Capital have understandably drawn comparisons to American hardcore legends Fugazi, but while that scene was characterized by chaos, tonight’s set is a much more measured intensity. Most of the songs are quite slow-paced, but bristle with energy, beautiful layering and atmospheric guitar colour. There is a lot going on in every song, constant movement and variety in sound. This is not a circle-pit kind of heaviness, but heavy it most definitely is.
When the band really lets loose, as they do on ‘More Is Less’ and highly-charged set closer, ‘Feeling Fades’, they really go all out. On the latter, there is a maelstrom of movement on the diminutive Hy-Brasil stage. The guitars form their own moshpit, their little guitar heads bobbing up and down over the band members. It makes for a brilliant ending to a fascinating show.
The Murder Capital have already gathered themselves a decent cult following. A number of folks made a snap decision to travel down to this show tonight, having seen the band in London last night – and it is easy to see why. There were a few people at this show who looked, to be honest, a little bored, but the folks who liked it (definitely the majority), were very engaged indeed.
To be clear, unless there is a cache of crossover masterpieces stashed in their backroom as yet undiscovered, this band will not be having a top-ten album any time soon. But that’s not what they are about. One gets the sense that The Murder Capital will always do things their own way, and bravo to them for that.
Listen to ‘Feeling Fades’ here:
Featured photo also by Simon Moyse.