THE LEMON TWIGS @ 02 INSTITUTE BIRMINGHAM

 

PHOTOGRAPHY  Henry Calvert
WORDS  Harley Cassidy


     When life is thrusting bawdry rock duos in your face to the point where you’re suffocated under a blanket of leather jackets, singular, dense riffs and faceless entities, The Lemon Twigs are that vital dose of lurid, ambitious, flare-wearing magic that one may need.


     Of course, on stage, The Lemon Twigs are more than just a duo, accompanied by fedora adorned bassist Megan Seankowski (that isn’t of any importance, I just like fedoras) and keyboardist, Danny Ayala. They are here to give the D’Addario brothers room to breath and show us the goods. What I knew of the band’s live performance since they hatched from a parallel universe in 2015, is that they dress like the Bay City Rollers, have a penchant for leg-splicing, high-kicks and have an arsenal of ballads that will make even the coldest of hearts feel something. What I didn’t prepare myself for, was how good they would actually sound.


     From retro-schmaltz to prog-heavy wizardry, The Lemon Twigs own the handbook. Eldest brother, Brian opens up the first half of the set, his voice, stark and pure, holding the weight of classic 70s demi-gods like Todd Rundgren and other much-used comparisons. It’s the kind of voice you don't hear that often in rock bands anymore; yearning and melodic, it’s best delineated on the glorious, fan fave, These Words and also, on an excellent, strutting cover of Jonathan Richman’s, ‘You Can’t Talk To The Dude.’


     Halfway through, there’s a changeover and Michael D’Addario takes centre stage. In short, Michael is more feral, wild-eyed and stranger than his brother. He teeters on the other end of the 70s scale, shimmying around like a Stooges-era Iggy in his favourite sequinned camisole, a wardrobe staple. It was during this exact moment that I realised what makes The Lemon Twigs such a provoking entity live; they balance each other out in a way that not even a handful of musical duos could manage artistically.


     Their set list featured tracks that joined the dots between unexpected genres and eras; Michael’s half is all glam Bowie pastiches, camp vaudeville turns and face-melting guitar freakouts, especially on "Night Song". Their crowd interaction is just as intriguing; whether it’s because they were child stars or not, they have a talent of complete crowd control, even when they’re spouting absolute nonsense or babbling incoherently to one another. As they bring out the endearingly earnest, "Light and Love" for the encore, you acknowledge that the hype is real, The Lemon Twigs are on their way to becoming pop enigmas and then go about your day.