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Live Review/ The Murder Capital @ The Exchange

Irish post punk brutes thrashed their way through an emotionally visceral set with an emboldened and intense spirit

By Guy Marcham, Deputy Music Editor

Irish post punk brutes thrashed their way through an emotionally visceral set with an emboldened and intense spirit.

Minutes before The Murder Capital were due on stage, an ominous dark red light descended upon the room. A raw sense of danger loomed. Perhaps a sign of things to come?

Within seconds, the sold-out crowd jolted into a frenzy of squeezed bodies and ferocious punk rock abandon. The Exchange had transformed into one big sweatbox sound tracked by a heart on sleeve barrage of sludgy riffs and angst driven bite.

The Dublin based quintet took on the roles of ruthless seething agitators – coaxing the crowd further into chaos with their explosive energy and untamed tenacity. Lead singer, James McGovern crawled across the stage as if hunting his prey, a dominant beast yet tailored head to toe in a fine suit. At times blurring the line between band and gang leader. A blistering and euphoric run of ‘More is Less’, ‘Don’t Cling to Life’ and ‘Love, Love, Love’ set the tone for the night’s proceedings. A gig brimming with vehement energy and weaponised post punk passion.

The band’s darker more brooding side took centre stage during their crowning performance, best illustrated by the stunning back to back of ‘Slowdance I’ and ‘Slowdance II’. The tense and overwhelming blend of Ian Curtis esque vocals and discordant guitar screeches pierced their way through the audience. An unsettling and almost eerie atmosphere took hold. The tracks built up into an incredibly loud crescendo of feedback as McGovern stood in the centre with his eyes firmly sealed shut. A poignant moment of reflection during a pummelling cascade of sound.

As the set reached the half way mark and the audience were in good need of a rest – the band gently tucked away their instruments and left McGovern alone in the spotlight alongside bassist, Gabriel Pascal Blake. The duo performed album highlight, ‘On Twisted Ground’, an emotionally vulnerable and Nick Cave inspired ballad. The song left an even greater dark shadow hanging above the audience.

After this brief but mesmerising ballad, the storming set of drums were kicked back into action during the intro of ‘Green and Blue’. A towering post-punk monolith set with a killer swaggering bass riff. A song that certainly means business.

The band then ended proceedings with a monstrous finale. The emphatic and surging ‘For Everything’ saw the band dart across the stage with uncaged energy. Final track, ‘Feeling Fades’ even saw McGovern collapse into a boisterous mosh pit that opened up near the front. The singer paraded into the circle pit, imploding The Exchange into one big hurtling frenzy. A sweaty victory lap for a band taking 2019 and The Exchange by absolute storm.

Featured Image:Epigram