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Live Review: Neighbour w/ LEØ & Ella Metherell @ Black Bear Lodge

Neighbour Press Shot

Folk 4-piece Neighbour aren’t content with world domination, so they’re taking their music to Space Camp. Their east coast tour on Thursday was the perfect way to launch their latest single, and a mission successful for Brisbane fans.

Indie-folk songstress Ella Metherell’s intimate set had the crowd enthralled, packed with original songs that captured her unique vocal style. She looked incredibly young in her denim jacket and glasses, but the maturity of her lyrics was evidence of the experience in her years. Metherell stood frozen still to avoid diverting attention from her pure, heartbreakingly honest vocal performance, interspersing her soft, subtle inflections with passionate slides. A style reminiscent of Florence Welch, Regina Spektor, and Sahara Beck came through in Metherell’s performance, and the irresistible quirks in her voice went hand in hand with her honest lyrics.

Alternative 3-piece LEØ started their set with a deep, rumbling synthesiser melody designed to resonate in every chest. Like Metherell, they kept their movement onstage to a minimum and their gaze averted from the crowd, filling the performance with angst. Their silken guitar melodies were like the soundtrack to a dream, flowing on repeat until they lulled the crowd into a trance. Each song framed Chloe Pilkington’s Kasey Chambers-esque vocals with a concoction of crunchy chords and a driving rhythm. Near the end of the set, Hold On inspired some interpretive dancing amongst the crowd before LEØ finished off with an absorbed performance of Linger, leaving echoes of Pilkington’s hauntingly pure notes hanging in the air.

A stage crammed with instruments left the 4-piece band with very little room to move, but even that couldn’t stop the passion from translating through Neighbour’s well-rehearsed performance.

Before Neighbour’s set, a procession of wooden cases housing various instruments were carried onto the stage, along with a Shaun the Sheep backpack filled with chords and wires. A stage crammed with instruments left the 4-piece band with very little room to move, but even that couldn’t stop the passion from translating through Neighbour’s well-rehearsed performance. Frontman Ryan Nebauer pulled off an unusual vocal melody in the opening number, the lyrical gaps filled with smooth vocal harmonies and infectiously energetic guitar, and things only improved from there.

A lullaby-style melody in Time And Money had the crowd swaying side to side, while Good Company changed things up with thrashing drums and soaring guitar notes. Unspoken went in yet another new direction as the band exchanged boisterous performance energy for restrained instrumentation and tender vocals in Unspoken, still working in an upbeat chorus made for dancing. The aptly-named Harmonic was a set highlight, packed with yearning, harmony-laden vocals in perfect pitch. Head-banging, thrashing guitar, and passionate vocals came packaged with so much enthusiasm that it was impossible to stand still, drawing even the most rhythm-averse in the crowd towards the stage.

A song about “jobs being taken by robots” started soft and angsty like a Jack Johnson number, and grew into another rock banger. Again, the song demonstrated seamless band cohesion, Nebauer bringing plenty of performance charisma to the stage as he gripped the microphone. His facial expressions added a shot of drama to I Could Not Wait, a clear crowd favourite with its equally playful rhythm and performance style.

Neighbour finished the show on a high with Thylacine’s insightful lyrics, impeccable timing, and instrumentation capable of curing any case of mid-week melancholy.

Finally, it was time for Space Camp, and as Nebauer donned a self-made astronaut helmet, the impressively original single took on a new level of authenticity. Played in costume before a live audience, an unusual melody suddenly made a lot of sense. Space Camp was followed by a passionate rendition of Neighbour’s 2013 track EOI, blending Coldplay’s ‘Parachutes’ phase with Passenger’s style and building in plenty of opportunities for a feel-good singalong. Neighbour finished the show on a high with Thylacine’s insightful lyrics, impeccable timing, and instrumentation capable of curing any case of mid-week melancholy.

A brand new single, amazing band synergy, and the chance to perform to rooms full of adoring fans – Ryan Nebauer and Neighbour might just have it all, but their passionate live performance will always be their biggest asset. It would be a challenge to find a band who looked happier and more carefree on stage – throw in a killer setlist capable of spreading that happiness to every corner of the room, and the result is a pretty damn good live show.

Written by Jess Martyn