In my pre-gig conversation with him, Cathal Roper made mention of how his band, The Murder Capital, have settled on about three setlists that are “absolute bangers”. Last night was definitely one of them. After a blisteringly noisy Sonic Youth-informed twenty minutes from highly promising support band, Happy Couple, the Murder Capital lads marched on stage one at a time, exuding presence. In the intimate pub setting of The Castle & Falcon, no one was exempt from the action. The love the bandmates have for each other for each other was evident in all the hugs and kisses they shared throughout the show, and within two songs a lady clinging to the stage wanted in on the action, drunkenly professing her adoration for frontman James McGovern, who affectionately brushed off her advances by telling her “you wouldn’t be saying that after spending a week with me.”
After a slow but transfixing start to the show with songs Slowdance and On Twisted Ground (a tragic song about the suicide of a friend of the band, my appreciation of which was only mildly diminished by some slightly impertinent whooping and the lack of cooperation from a swaying stagelight, remaining on in spite of the gesturing from bandmembers), it was time to ramp things up with the brooding Love, Love, Love, and people really started moving. (On a side note, although the ratio of old to young in the audience wasn’t becoming of such a virile young band, some of those veterans could really hold their own in the pit). McGovern’s apparent consciousness of the disappointing average age of his Birmingham faithful was overturned by their unimpeded excitement when the lads turned the heat up, and he acknowledged this with, teasing “you are alive, aren’t you?”
The album opener, For Everything came next, and was followed by the marginally less intense Green & Blue, which offered scant respite in preparation for the mess that was the final three tracks, the liveliest of the album: Don’t Cling to Life, More is Less and Feeling Fades. Good luck catching your breath between these belters.
The Murder Capital are one of those bands who have relied on word of mouth for much of their publicity, and boy is that working a treat. It isn’t hard to see why the legend of their live shows has disseminated so rapidly over the past year. It felt like a band on the rise, on the run, who still feel every moment of their songs as intensely as the audience, if not more so. So when McGovern threw himself into the crowd during the final song (not once but twice), it was the least we could do to prop him up, a symbolic display of gratitude for the emotional honesty in their music. (Well, that and buying a t-shirt afterwards.)
Written by Joe Melly.