It’s going to be hard for me to put my first experience of The Murder Capital live into words, so I’ll ease myself in with the evening’s only disappointments. On my way to the venue, I got word that support band Egyptian Blue had pulled out. It was due to sickness, so totally understandable. But I’ve been watching The Murder Capital Facebook group over recent months and soaking in the hype for this support act, letting my excitement build. It was a shame not to see them. This was slightly relieved, though, by the appearance of Unorthodox Coolock on the stage. A spoken word performer may seem an odd support for a post punk band, but his poems about mental health, mad nights out, and missing friends were the perfect mood improver.
My only other disappointment was the forty-five-minute wait for The Murder Capital. I normally wouldn’t mind, but after drinking in Latvia for four days in the run up to the gig, I was not in the mood to be used as a leaning post by the person standing next to me. You can probably tell; I was not at my best. But then then boys appeared on the stage. Within a few second of opener ‘More is Less’, all these negative feelings (and even the lingering Latvian hangover) were put to bed. The immediate burst of energy they provided, the way they threw themselves into their performance right from the word go, was enough to wake up even the most miserable member of the crowd.
That energy was also very evident in the audience. As James McGovern leaped over the barriers and into the crowd, a circle formed in the pit – soon we were thrashing about everywhere. And as the opener rolled into ‘For Everything’, it felt like the madness would never let up. Until James stood there and watched as we all sang the refrain of ‘for everything, for nothing’ straight back at him. It was one of those moments that gives you goosebumps.
I was glad, though, when this burst of a beginning was followed by ‘Slow Dance I’ and ‘II.’ For the first time in ten minutes, I was able to firmly plant my feet and watch this wondrous band at work. The guitar effects. The ferocious drumming. The simple, but essential basslines. And in the middle of it all, James leading their every move in the way that all the best frontmen do. It was during these two songs that I started to think about the future – when I’ll be able to tell people I was there, this close to the band, before they went massive and started only playing arenas. On today’s evidence, that is something they definitely deserve.
‘On Twisted Ground’ came next. It was the slowest, most contemplative moment of the evening – and also, possibly, the most beautiful. I also used it as an excuse to move back a bit. To take in the band from a more central, less hectic, angle. This was a good move. ‘Green and Blue’ begins and I get to witness one of my favourite songs of last year in widescreen, watching these bandmates move around each other, pull each other into hugs, keep each other going. ‘Don’t Cling To Life’ takes the energy to an even higher level, and even halfway back we’re moshing. And then we’re on to ‘Feeling Fades’, the audience told to ‘get the fuck down’ to the floor by James before all bursting up as one when the chorus kicks in. And it feels like the crowd have actually been as one all night, in a way that I rarely witness with other bands. It feels like The Murder Capital are really building something here.
And just like that, they’re gone. No encore, no messing about, and no need for anything else. The set might have been short, but it was blistering. It was mindblowing. It was up there with the best gigs I’ve been to, and I go to a hell of a lot of gigs. As I walked home, I started to wonder if this was what it felt like when people first saw Joy Division and the Sex Pistols lives. I can imagine, in years to come, that people will talk about this tour in the same way they now talk the early shows of those bands and others. The Murder Capital showed, with their chemistry, their unbelievably tight performance, and their connection to their fans, that they deserve to be the next big thing. I hope they are.
Words by Fran Slater