The Murder Capital

Queen Margaret Union, Glasgow

FORTY years ago this year, U2 launched their debut album, going onto become global superstars and Ireland's most famous musical export.

In 2003, Boy was ranked number 417th on the Rolling Stone list of the 500 Greatest Albums Of All time and the opening salvo I Will Follow remains a staple in the Bono-fronted band's setlist today..

In 2020 Ireland has at least two breakthrough guitar bands to be proud of.

The Murder Capital and Fontaines D.C. have only one album to their names but can rightly be talked about as potential heirs; with the emphasis on 'potential'.

The only thing the former's debut album When I Have Fears has in common with Boy is that it has traditional guitars-drums-and bass and comes from the Republic.


Unlike Boy, it reveals a knack of showing that intensity is more than just bluster, and comes in many guises.

While this mid-20s five-piece's sound incorporates nods to the best of post-punk and indie from Joy Division, The Wedding Present and Nick Cave to modern-day Idles and Interpol with quiet-loud-quiet Pixies dynamics thrown in, there is an authenticity and potency to their delivery not just in the ferocity of their most up-tempo tracks, but a deep resonance in their quieter, less visceral songs.

It can be an outward showing, with a snarling, manic bite and in their case mosh pit-friendly as in their wild Glasgow opener More Is Less, where singer James McGovern gets into the crowd to lead the dance violence.

The vein-bulging start continues with the insatiable Green and Blue, which in Glasgow could almost be a call to both sides of the Old Firm as McGovern beckons: "I'll correlate the blue, the green and blue, the green for you." It is not an intended message.

But there is that delicately emotional introverted voice, which equally acts as a soul purge. After the deliriously exciting opening, where the five-piece struggle to fit on this curtailed stage, the tender two-part Slowdance, twists the fire into tender, poetic shoegaze territory.

Unlike U2 when post-punk was still fresh, there has been four decades of attempts at evoking that devil-may-care spirit in different guises, and this band pull it off, like Idles, by daring to talk about their feelings.

The gorgeous On Twisted Ground is a harrowing, direct first person account over the death of a close friend to suicide. As the opening hushed bass tones start, the crowd demand 'hush' as some of the chat threatens to drown out its sheer beauty. The demands are immediately met.

The mixing desk audio engineer takes special credit for careful control over the close interplay between the guitars, bass and drums that exists on the album and crucially for giving clear space to McGovern's potent delivery of his most chilling lines giving greater impact to the devastating confessional: "Oh, my dearest friend/How it came to this/With your searing end/Into the abyss."

“Every single one of those lyrics relates back in some way to his death,” the band say in a statement.

“Don’t cling to life, there’s nothing on the other side," appeals McGovern on another breathtaking gem that talks of the pain of burying a loved one as joyously distorted guitars dance around him. While the sentiments hardly sound like a recipe for a fun night out, there is a feeling of catharsis in the delivery that resonates.

In the middle of the set McGovern, like the impressive poet Unorthodox Coolock supporting the band, encourages the crowd to talk to people they suspect may be suffering dark times.

But the actions through the confessionals in this less-than-an-hour set say more than any stage appeals.

With only one song from the ten-track debut album omitted - How The Streets Adore Me Now with its deep tone delivery is clearly difficult to replicate live - this is a short but electrifying ebb-and-flow nine-song set that should live in the memory.

In the end, no matter how dark and intense the themes, a band are only as good as the tunes and hooks they are able to come up with to draw people in. The Murder Capital have all that in abundance.