Live Review: The Murder Capital return to Esquires for triumphant festival warm up

McGovern "Open the pit, nice and wide, yeah - now slow dance”

By David Jackson
Sunday, 3rd October 2021, 1:02 pm
Updated Sunday, 3rd October 2021, 10:28 pm
The Murder Capital. Photo By David Jackson.
The Murder Capital. Photo By David Jackson.

Two years ago, Dublin post-punk five piece The Murder Capital rolled into Bedford following the release of their debut album to play one of Esquires’ stand-out gigs of the year.

On Friday, they returned for another sold-out show and to make another claim for that accolade.

The Murder Capital were in town to play a warm-up gig ahead of Saturday’s appearance at Liverpool’s Sound City.

The Murder Capital onstage at Esquires. Photo by David Jackson.

Joining The Murder Capital at Esquires was Low Girl, who opened proceedings with a set of lo-fi alt-pop.

Released in August 2019, When I Have Fears received acclaim from across the music press with the band’s live performances equally lauded.

And while no one could have guessed how the following couple of years would pan out, The Murder Capital, still managed to tour their debut while also working on new material.

Their 12-song set at Esquires featured four new songs, with setlists only providing a glimpse of future song names.

The Murder Capital onstage at Esquires. Photo by David Jackson.

It’s hard to impress the sheer force of The Murder Capital’s sound. At times, dark, menacing and slowly brooding with bass led post-punk grooves during songs like Slow Dance.

And then, almost at the flick of a switch, songs explode, into a beautiful cacophonous noise of clashing guitars.

If there’s a debate to be had around the best band to play at Esquires this year, there isn’t one around the loudest.

The Murder Capital were loud. The sort of loud you can feel. The sort of loud that blasts air out of speakers at those on the front row while reverberating through everyone else inside.

The Murder Capital onstage at Esquires. Photo by David Jackson.

But this wasn’t loudness for loudness’s sake - as wrapped around the wall of noise were fantastic songs and a captivating front man in James McGovern.

The Murder Capital opened with a ‘one-two’ of For Everything and More Is Less, with Gabriel Blake’s bass rumbling under McGovern’s heavy Irish vocals before the former exploded into life.

In the brief moments of respite between songs, McGovern occasionally spoke to the Esquires crowd, early on addressing the return of live music following covid-enforced closures.

“We’re still trying to find words to explain what it means to be back,” he said, adding, “This is why we do this, we love you.”

Low Girl, opening for The Murder Capital at Esquires. Photo by David Jackson.

Unnamed new tracks gave fans a tantalising glimpse of music from what it’s safe to assume will be The Murder Capital’s sophomore album.

However, it was the likes of Green & Blue and Don’t Cling To Life which were met with the most ecstatic response.

Ahead of Slowdance I and II, McGovern again spoke briefly, “Open the pit, nice and wide, yeah,” (the usual precursor of fans hurtling back into each other when a song kicks in) only to add, “now slow dance”.

The Murder Capital left the stage following Feeling Fades as they started, to a wall of noise, with McGovern leaning from the stage into fans.

Loudest gig at Esquires? Almost certainly. Best gig at Esquires this year? You might just have to argue that one out with anyone who saw Yard Act two days prior.

Either way, there wasn’t much in it and The Murder Capital’s performance coupled with a glimpse of new material left fans elated.

The Murder Capital played:

For Everything

More Is Less

TL (new song)

On Twisted Ground

Green & Blue

TLBTS (new song)

Love Love Love

WHTD (new song)

Slow Dance I & II

C* (new song)

Don’t Cling To Life

Feeling Fades