The Murder Capital are back in the UK. They are in the midst of a European run, having already stopped off in some continental cities, and this home stretch takes them to the UK and Ireland.
Wednesday night sees them in Leeds’ Project House. A new space in the city borne out of a collaboration between Welcome Skate Store and The Brudenell: the fresh space is exciting, and the white-walled room fills up quickly.
Before the main event, the Leeds crowd are treated to a fantastic set from Teeth Machine, who perform a snappy set of intimate storytelling set to glorious lo-fi indie. The band has bags of talent, and are absolutely one to watch for 2024.
Before too long, it’s time for the main event. The warehouse-style room is cold, and every member takes to the stage clad in an extra layer. That is, except for frontman James McGovern who strides out triumphantly in a light shirt and a pair of leather trousers which Lou Reed himself would have been proud of.
They launch straight into their set, and early doors the crowd goes mad for debut album favourite ‘More is Less’. As the cut plays out, McGovern is already conducting his crowd: resting a Cuban heel on the front of the stage and encourages the crowd to open up, before instructing them to gleefully slam into one another. “What’s the fuckin’ craic Leeds?” He announces, before again conducting the band and crowd as the next number starts.
The set is brilliantly paced, and the punkier cuts from the debut are aligned wonderfully with new material from second album Gigi’s Recovery. The title track is a great moment in the set, as the somewhat more mature and introspective material from the sophomore record coalesces with the grief-stricken rock of When I Have Fears.
‘Slowdance I & II’, from the first album, is a monumental moment in the show. The cut allows the band off the lead, and they play out a gorgeous extended jam. McGovern leaps onto the barrier, and perches facing the stage. Arm in arm with the crowd, he joins us in watching this superb, post-rock jam section, lost in a reverie.
New single ‘Heart In The Hole’ is a real highlight, and the folk-infused post-rock tune sounds even better live than on record. It builds to an astonishing final act, and for a track that has only been out a matter of weeks, a good number of the crowd seem to know every single syllable.
TMC have a knack for expressing the most intense emotion, and the emotional double blow of ‘Ethel’ followed by ‘On Twisted Ground’ showcases this entirely. They write the most gorgeous tunes, centred around love and loss: they are experts at writing songs that hit you hard, and the right pairing of chords and lyrics soon find audience members’ faces prickling with tears. McGovern is a generous frontman, grabbing a crowdsurfer during ‘Ethel’ and pulling him so close that they are screaming the final refrain of the track with their foreheads pressed together.
The audience pay this generosity back tenfold, and as the band play out the anguished cut the room is pin drop silent, with barely a mobile phone in sight. After the back-to-back ‘lump in the throat’ bangers, McGovern thanks the crowd for being with them in that moment, before the band launch into the considerably more upbeat ‘Only Good Things’.
As the show comes to a close, it is increasingly apparent just how special this band are. Having followed up a near perfect debut with something different, but just as intense and enjoyable, they have translated this studio prowess to the live stage with prowess. They are an utter joy to behold, and are quickly cementing themselves as one of the best live bands on the circuit.
Photo credit: Charlie Joe Doherty