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The Neighbourhood and Seasfire – The Borderline, London 14/11/12

23 November 2012, 14:45 | Written by Sam Lee


Anyone who has tried to do their homework on The Neighbourhood will know that it isn’t easy to find out much about them online. In the few interviews that he has done (and you could probably count them on one hand), frontman Jesse Rutherford has made it clear that this anonymity was all part of a plan that has just begun to pay off. So, amidst all of the buzz, and with various tastemakers falling over themselves in their haste to tip them for big things, it’s hardly a surprise that tonight’s rare UK appearance has been sold out for quite some time.

The Borderline is filling up long before Rutherford and co. step foot on the stage, meaning that support act Seasfire play to a near-capacity crowd. Dressed immaculately all in black and with the near-arrogance of a band who know they’re onto something good, they conduct themselves with an icy cool throughout, delivering a set that mixes intelligent pop sensibilities with a darker, more foreboding electronic edge. There’s no better example of this than set closer ‘Crushing Abyss’, which bears all of the hallmarks of a track that’s just waiting for its time to become massive.

And as well as the songs themselves, another reason Seasfire’s performance is so impressive is their attention to detail. Every slight part of the set seems to have been meticulously planned and rehearsed to a tee – putting them miles ahead of most support acts you’ll witness. Bristol seems to be spitting out even more interesting bands than usual at the moment – and Seasfire have to be near the top of the pile.

But no matter how slick Seasfire are, there’s only ever going to be one winner in the style battle tonight. And the screams that greet The Neighbourhood as they hop onto the stage make it pretty clear that it’s the Californian five-piece who are coming out on top for now. Rutherford holds the fawning crowd’s complete attention from the moment he steps onto the stage; with charisma almost visibly oozing out of every pore, he strolls about and casually drapes his arms over the mic stand as he sings, neck tattoos spilling out of the top of his long-sleeved black shirt.

Perhaps their affinity with the audience tonight can be partly explained by their undeniable ‘Englishness’ – from the British spelling of their name to the Paul McCartney t-shirt that the drummer is wearing, there’s something about them that belies their Golden State origins. Rutherford has mentioned before how UK fans seem to ‘get’ the band more than their American counterparts, and that’s easy to believe tonight, with the London crowd welcoming the band as if they were one of their own.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt having tracks like ‘Female Robbery’, which sparks a small amount of movement amongst the audience with its laid-back swagger, while final song ‘Sweater Weather’ is unsurprisingly the strongest track of the night. Not only does it see the band at their most confident and engaging, but also the crowd at their most involved, as the chorus of “It’s too co-o-o-o-o-o-old” is sung right back in Rutherford’s face.

However, the two singles aside, there seems to be something missing from tonight’s performance, and it’s difficult not to feel a little unsatisfied as the audience lingers afterwards, awaiting an encore that never comes. Perhaps it’s because the mystique that The Neighbourhood have created online is lost in the flesh. Or maybe it’s that, underneath all of the EP’s slick production, some of the songs themselves are slightly pedestrian and a little forgettable. Either way, although it’s by no means a bad set, The Neighbourhood just seem to be lacking the spark that you’d hope to see in a band as hotly-tipped as them.

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