Those who caught The Murder Capital’s early shows – or that one live session video that did the rounds and bolstered the hype in lieu of a single proper – knew they were made for bigger things. It was fitting, then, that the Dublin-based quintet would bring their European tour to a close at a sold-out Vicar Street.
As has become their calling card, the band are played onstage by the song Dear James by Burnt Out, the defunct multimedia project of late poet Paul Curran. Curran was on the minds of many at Vicar Street, including support act Craig Doyle, aka Unorthodox Coolock who pays tribute to his friend and once again relishes in the opportunity the band have afforded him. His words reach far and wide, linking the personal tales to wider contemporary issues with plenty of humour in between. Only in Dublin could you rhyme “blue WKD” with “frigit” and get away with it.
This night’s showcase also included performances from Junior Brother – who dubbed the night “Murder Capital Picnic” – and Egyptian Blue. On paper, this motley crew seem like strange bedfellows but all have joined The Murder Capital on tour invariably. Considering the range of influences on The Murder Capital – brutalism, Keats and photographer Francesca Woodman – it all makes perfect sense, really.
If there’s any justice in the world, Junior Brother will return as a sell-out, headline act in his own right. His witty yet wistful, folk-infused songs are well received amongst the early stragglers. Egyptian Blue stylistically have more in common with The Murder Capital but their take on the post-punk sound is spikier, more angular. The band are more than a match for their counterparts in terms of energy and are very much a band to keep an eye on, too.
The Murder Capital have succeeded in amassing a huge following that includes people of all ages. Kids came with their parents, geezers donned their leather jackets and stood shoulder to shoulder with artsy teens and young professionals alike. As Paul Curran’s words faded away, the band go straight for the jugular. More Is Less is immediately followed by For Everything. The atmosphere is impalpable, the band and audience alike insatiable.
To dismiss The Murder Capital as just another post-punk revival band would be unfortunate. There are too many colours to their sonic palette, and as the band prove during a particularly honey soaked version of the romantic Slowdance I & II. But what is most arresting about the band is their disdain for toxic masculinity and focus on openness and vulnerability. Frontman James McGovern urges his audience to “please reach out. If you need to talk to someone, we’re here”, pre-empting his ode to Paul and other loved ones lost On Twisted Ground. Backed by subdued blue hues, in sharp contrast to the frantic strobe lighting that beckoned them on-stage; The Murder Capital succeed in captivating a crowd at every turn, and at this point, maintaining their silence.
Of course, as nice as it is to enjoy the silence, it was never going to last. The band bid farewell with Feeling Fades. Junior Brother resurfaces to surf the crowd and is soon joined by McGovern during that bit. Instruments and mics are dropped with reckless abandon and the band embrace before exiting the stage leaving behind them only sweat, feedback and an exhilarated crowd.