The Murder Capital at The Button Factory, Dublin on Friday 16th August 2019

On a night where The Murder Capital celebrate the release of their stunning debut album ‘When I Have Fears’, it seems fitting that proceedings are opened with the unique storytelling stylings of spoken word artist and friend of the band, Unorthodox Coolock, whose tales of staying up late to watch professional wrestling pay-per-views and teenage trysts were received warmly by the sold-out crowd. It is no secret that The Murder Capital appreciate the art of poetry; the title of their debut album sharing its name with the famous Keats sonnet, frontman James McGovern’s lyrics both deft and literate.

It seems all the more fitting that as the band’s name is projected onstage to signal their impending arrival, the song Dear James by Burnt Out – a now defunct music and multimedia project that explored working class identity fronted by late Coolock poet, Paul Curran – plays over the Button Factory’s speakers. It is also fitting that this is immediately followed by The Murder Capital’s own How The Streets Adore Me Now, a breath-taking piano-driven ballad that sees McGovern learn to live wish loss in hushed tones. It is clear that all those who share their art with us tonight were touched by Paul’s; and given the current state of the independent music scene in Ireland, and the title of The Murder Capital’s song, it’s hard not to reflect upon his art.

The Murder Capital take the stage to a rapturous reception and waste no time creating the intense atmosphere their shows have been heralded for. Intros and instrumental breaks are vamped on, band and audience alike feeding from each other’s energy. “The amount of people in here who are standing next to somebody that they fancy and haven’t told is unreal” a jubilant McGovern proclaims before Slowdance, during which bum notes are laughed off by guitarists Damien Tuite and Cathal Roper.  It’s a celebration after all. During Love, Love, Love; McGovern jerks and shakes as if being electrocuted as atonal guitars reach an ear-piercing apex.

A huge factor in the appeal of The Murder Capital is the maturity and tenderness with which their music tackles the most difficult subject matter. Like the poem it shares its name with, ‘When I Have Fears’ is an exploration of death and the emotions it draws. The Murder Capital’s live show is no different. A typically tear-inducing rendition of On Twisted Ground draws a particularly emotive performance of Green And Blue, while the ironically life-affirming “celebration of death” that is Don’t Cling To Life succeeds in unifying the crowd who sing, dance and pump their fists together.

The night is brought to a close with the sight of McGovern crowd surfing on his back along to Feeling Fades while charismatic bassist Gabriel Paschal Byrne towers over the crowd by climbing atop a speaker. The appreciation shared by all parties is obvious. Confrontational yet reflective, gothic and indulgent, dark, but shining a small glimmering light on the beautiful side of life – The Murder Capital may not top charts but they will continue to create and showcase great art.