Showcasing bona fide Big Album and rebirth of sorts Gigi’s Recovery in a modest space makes for a heady, packed house, experience
The Murder Capital are a band who could easily have faltered under the weight of expectation, or crumbled under the weight of the hype that accompanied their debut. Seen by some as a ‘little brother’ band to the mighty Fontaines DC, and peddling a gloomy, Joy Division-informed brand of post-punk, the Irish quintet emerged with When I Have Fears back in 2019. Since then, they have grown into something entirely of their own creation.
Gigi’s Recovery, released a few weeks ago, is so much more than their second album. It feels like a rebirth of sorts, a new genesis for a band who could have rested on their laurels. Instead, in collaboration with super-producer John Congleton, they produced a Big Album that moved away from post-punk and into art rock territory, drawing from Radiohead and Tears For Fears, David Bowie and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. Gigi’s Recovery is nothing if not a powerful statement of intent.
So to hear the majority of both albums performed live in Birmingham’s Coldest Venue®️, The Mill, was a revelation. There are bands that valiantly perform to empty rooms, playing each note as if it was their last, and there are bands that perform in complete and total synergy with a packed house. Thankfully, on Tuesday night, The Murder Capital were given the opportunity to be the latter.
Walking on stage to rapturous applause a few minutes after U2’s Bullet The Blue Sky blasted over the PA, the band seemed fired up, as though they had something to prove. Frontman James McGovern was in powerful, stagediving, security-swatting form all night, even stopping to give Birmingham curries a shout-out early in the performance. Racing through Crying, More Is Less and Return My Head before the crowd had chance to catch their breath, and establishing a pattern of alternating between the first and second albums throughout the entire set, the band seemed to be playing to convert those attendees who had taken a chance on the gig into real fans. The almost certainly succeeded.
A truly powerful pairing came next, with Green And Blue matched with the gothic splendour of The Stars Will Leave Their Stage (two clear highlights of their respective albums). From there, the goods just kept coming. The Lie Becomes The Self and For Everything were particularly venomous, and this writer’s favourite tune – Only Good Things – was played with the kind of heart-bursting joy you’d expect from Tears For Fears. Gigi’s Recovery (the song) was superb, as was Feeling Fades. The only complaint anyone could have had is that they didn’t play Slowdance I and II or Belonging, although they appear to have replaced those on the setlist with Love, Love, Love and For Everything. Seems like a fair deal.
By the time the band closed the show with their best tune, Ethel (their 16th of the evening), it was clear that they’d accomplished everything they set out to. Nobody in the room could have left with anything other than amazement in their minds. In fact, when McGovern announced that it was time to say goodbye, someone in the crowd shouted for “four more”, resulting in a little back and forth that ended when someone else in the crowd asked for Wonderwall. That resulted in a swift: “No.”
It was a fantastic show, and a privilege to see a band with ideas that big in a room that modest. If you’re reading this, catch them while they’re still on tour in smaller venues. You might not get the chance to see them in this iteration again, and that would be an immense shame.