Friday 17 February 2023

The Murder Capital - Manchester Albert Hall - 16th February 2023

The Murder Capital kicked off their UK tour in support of their second album Gigi's Recovery at Manchester's Albert Hall on Thursday night. Performing all but one track from the album as well as a selection from their debut When I Have Fears, the band demonstrated just why they're ready to take over the world.

The evolution will not be compromised.

This statement made by the band in the run up to Gigi's Recovery was a bold one. Change was vital to the band thriving and moving forward. Many bands make such statements and then produce a record that's a carbon copy of its predecessor. Not The Murder Capital. The clues were in the songs previewed as we came out of lockdown. They didn't fit with the familiar intensity of When I Have Fears, a record we'd played daily for about a year. The album's release, a month ago, revealed much more though. The evolution had carried on apace and had not been compromised.

Tonight's show demonstrates the true extent of that event. Sure, there's still plenty here from When I Have Fears, the overwhelming force and power of For Everything, Feeling Fades, More Is Less and Don't Cling To Life, coupled with the two-part Slow Dance where James leaves the stage, sits down on the barrier and watches his band mates play as if he were one of us. 

On Twisted Ground, a brave choice of song given the size of the crowd and space and the quiet needed to be fully immersed in the devastation caused by the suicide of a close friend that the song narrates, still breaks the heart and brings tears to the eyes even when soundtracked to blokes talking shit about nothing and young women screeching as they take another selfie for Instagram. For The Murder Capital though, this is part of the evolution. The days of three hundred capacity venues where you can see the whites of their eyes and everyone is at one in communion are gone.

The Murder Capital of 2022 know how to play to the crowd. Whether it be the steps from the high stage for James to come down and immerse himself amongst and within us, the demands to clap along at certain points or the bigger stage giving James, Gabe and Cathal in particular space to move around rather than be in each other's faces. The connections between them are less visual than before as a result, but the music tells us that this is a band that have deepened the bond between them in the painful making of their second album. 

It's part of the evolution to a band that can fill the biggest stages. They hold most of the audience through the quieter moments of Gigi's Recovery - the intensity of the performance of We Have To Disappear, The Stars Will Leave Their Stage and The Lie Becomes The Self cutting through the slightly muddy sound and foggy lighting that shrouds the stage. The songs expand from the claustrophobic intensity of their recorded versions, and those early performances, to fill every corner of this majestic building. The singles - Only Good Things and A Thousand Lives - plus the album's title track thrive on the positivity that courses through them and the familiarity of the crowd with the former. They finish on Ethel, a statement that they won't just rely on the old hands to send you out of the door buzzing.

The Murder Capital feel like a band in transformation, from the larva of their debut album into a beautiful fully formed adult about to spread their wings and fly. Like all the truly special bands of any generation, they have refused to stand still and rest on their laurels. The evolution is their way of survival, their way of ensuring that they remain fresh and alive. In so many ways they're not the same, but in the crucial one, that they are a band whose hands you can put your life into and trust, they are exactly the same. No compromise.

The Murder Capital played Exist (taped intro), Crying, Return My Head, More Is Less, The Stars Will Leave Their Stage, For Everything, Slow Dance I, Slow Dance II, On Twisted Ground, The Lie Becomes The Self, A Thousand Lives, Green And Blue, We Have To Disappear, Gigi's Recovery, Feeling Fades, Only Good Things, Don't Cling To Life and Ethel.

The Murder Capital's official site can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.

They tour in February at Hamburg Molotow (February 6), Berlin Lido (8), Munich Hansa 39 (9), Strasbourg La Laiterie (11), Paris Le Trabendo (13), Amsterdam Paradiso (14), Manchester Albert Hall (16), Glasgow SWG3 (18), Leeds Stylus (20), Birmingham The Mill (21), London O2 Kentish Town Forum (23), Bristol The Marble Factory (24) and Dublin Vicar Street (26) before heading to the US and Canada in March and April.


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