The Murder Capital @ Mash House, Edinburgh, 15 Oct

Tonight, The Murder Capital play their debut album more or less in full, but radically reordered to split the gig into a show of two halves

Live Review by Max Sefton | 21 Oct 2019
  • The Murder Capital

There’s a fierce buzz coursing through The Mash House as Irish post-punks The Murder Capital arrive on stage. The crowd of old punks and young weirdos is a sell-out, packing out the tiny Mash House, ahead of a series of larger shows in the new year.

The five-piece’s debut album When I Have Fears, produced by legendary producer Flood (PJ Harvey, New Order, U2), arrived earlier this year, hitting number two in the Irish Albums chart. Since then they have scythed their way across Britain with a wall-shaking live show that finds the midpoint between Joy Division and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Tonight, they play their debut album more or less in full, but radically reordered to split the gig into a show of two halves.

The first three tracks – Slowdance I, Slowdance II and On Twisted Ground – lean into moody gothic drama, with swathes of atmospheric guitar from Damien Tuit and Cathal Roper and clattering bass from Gabriel Paschal Blake that conjure up a storm reminiscent of The Cure’s Disintegration.

Once this more stately opening trio fade away, however, the show switches gear and a fiercer and more pointed version of The Murder Capital begins to surface. Love, Love, Love and For Everything are ferocious, delivered in a gritty bark by vocalist James McGovern. The tempo only rises from then on, until by the end of their 45-minute set the singer is upside down in the crowd, one guitarist is perched on top of his amp and the other is eyeball to eyeball with the front row.

If there’s a criticism it’s that McGovern’s vocals are sometimes lost in the demonic racket of his bandmates, but when he addresses the crowd it’s with the cocky charisma of a born star.

Feeling Fades vibrates with the scathing, alienated energy of something from Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures, with flashes of white and red strobe lights casting the quintet as gruesome vampiric figures looming out of the darkness. 

Then as abruptly as they changed gears, they vanish into the gloom. There’s no encore, no showboating and no gratuitous false endings, just a happy audience left to file out and reflect on what it all means. It seems The Murder Capital can safely say that, as one of their finest songs attests, sometimes less is more.