Suited and booted, Dublin punk outfit The Murder Capital performed at Bristol’s Exchange to a sold-out crowd crammed in a tiny dark room. Arriving on stage like mobsters there to settle some debts, the five-piece treated the gig like a rallying call to cement what most of the crowd already knew – they’re fucking brilliant.
After taking a few minutes to set the atmosphere and themselves up, the Dublin boys stormed into ‘More Is Less’. Venomously sauntering about the stage, The Murder Capital moved with consistent intensity and passion – so much so that it proved difficult to break away in fear of missing a trick or being told off by them.
Debut album When I Have Fears, released back in August, was critically acclaimed, and cited as ‘an exercise in both darkness and light’ – and this is exactly how the experience of a Murder Capital gig is. At times there is a dark malice in their art, with ‘Don’t Cling To Life’ roaring the band into a frenzy. At other times, there’s down-and-out desperation; particularly with ‘On Twisted Ground’, as it saw the Exchange submerged in darkness and the spotlight set on lead singer James McGovern, who pants and trudges through the pining ballad.
When I Have Fears is somehow humble on record, compared to its vivacity live. Tracks like ‘Slowdance I’ and ‘Love, Love, Love’ enter a whole new territory. The rawness of their live show is perilous and it binds them inextricably to beautiful chaos. The rumbling barrage of ‘Green & Blue’ threatens the crowd, and the finale of ‘Feeling Fades’ sees McGovern run into the crowd for one last moment.
For The Murder Capital, 2019 has been monumental. From selling out venues off the back of one or two records, releasing their debut album in August, and embarking on a huge European tour until the end of November, it’s no doubt been a wild ride. It will be all too good to see where their abrasive yet invigorating brand of punk takes them in the new year.
Words by Jasmin Robinson