- 18 Aug 19
The Murder Capital have just released their stunning debut album, When I Have Fears. And what better way to celebrate it than a rollicking gig in their hometown of Dublin. They came, they saw, they conquered... Photography: Grayce Leonard
Straight from releasing one of the best albums of the year with When I Have Fears (here at Hot Press, we gave it a 9/10 rating), The Murder Capital strutted onto the Button Factory stage for a launch-day performance.
And what a performance it turned out to be! If confirmation were needed that these Irish punks are the real deal, then this electrifying gig hammered this point home.
Before The Murder Capital had even released a single, fans were already falling in love with the band, in response to their thrilling live recordings that were posted online. It was these live recordings – coupled with support slots for the likes of Fontaines D.C., Idles and Shame – that created the buzz about The Murder Capital in the first place.
The Button Factory show got off to an unconventional start, with the fast-paced spoken word poetry of Unorthodox Coolock aka Craig Doyle. While it may have taken some of the crowd by surprise, the majority were well impressed with the Emmet Kirwan and Stephen James Smith-like raps, which deftly linked personal stories of urban living to wider contemporary issues.
Doyle even managed to smuggle oodles of humour into his dexterous rhymes – hilariously rhyming ‘Blue WKD’ with ‘frigit’ at one point. All in all, choosing Unorthodox Coolock to be their support act was a bold creative decision for The Murder Capital – but one that ultimately makes sense, for a band who cite the likes of brutalist architecture, John Keats and Francesca Woodman as major influences.
Soon after, The Murder Capital took to the stage as the words of the Keats poem that gave their record its name appeared on a screen behind them and their slow ballad ‘How the Streets Adore Me Now’ played over speakers. If the audience was being lulled into an introspective mood, they were snapped immediately to attention again, as the five-piece launched into a blistering rendition of album opener ‘For Everything’. The track’s constant sharp eruptions of electric guitar riffs felt even more visceral in the flesh – thanks to the strobe lights emphasising these moments. Lead singer James McGovern’s utterly unique deep, baritone vocals were an early highlight.
The slow, brooding soundscapes of ‘Love, Love, Love’ and ‘Slowdance I’ were given additional edge and texture thanks to the extra reverb and rattling vibrations only live music can offer. Meanwhile, the group’s more traditional amphetamine-charged punk songs were designed to have people moshing at gigs. Between the relentless bass-lines, pounding drums, screeching guitars and McGovern’s twitchy, energetic live persona, the audience was whipped up into a frenzy, screaming back the lyrics of ‘More is Less’ and ‘Feeling Fades’.
Among the most powerful moments of the show was when McGovern spoke to the crowd about the importance of telling loved ones how you feel about them. “I remember the times I didn’t tell my friends how much I loved them,” he said. “When you lose a friend so close to you, and that friend gave you the courage to do everything, it’s like being thrust into space. For the friends I have, I am forever grateful.”
This was before launching into a smartly stripped-back rendition of ‘On Twisted Ground’, the band’s most beautiful song and an ode to a deceased loved one. McGovern fought back the tears while performing, and many in the crowd were left misty eyed too.
Speaking to Hot Press recently, McGovern said: “Any live show is a beautiful thing. It allows for a great escape from everyday experience … I like challenging the crowd. If you leave a show and you’re not affected in some way, we haven’t done our job.”
I think it’s safe to say, The Murder Capital achieved all they wanted and more. Goodnight, Dublin. Job done. And brilliantly.