The Lemon Twigs @ The Ritz, Manchester (photo: Rhys Thomas)


Popular cultural habits have always loved making their return to our society, with things such as record players, musical influences and even some questionable fashion decisions which you’d think had been buried in the past, somehow making a revisit to the 21st century. Some of these things make their return with a great reception, whereas others are outdated, peculiar and sometimes even repulsive. The Lemon Twigs are one of the latest bands to try and reinvent themselves through the power of previous influences, now finding themselves trapped in a ‘70s time machine.

The Long Island duo released their latest studio album Go to School late last year, drawing multiple parallels with albums such as Tommy and Quadrophenia by The Who, whereas their debut album Do Hollywood was seen to be more influenced by the ‘60s music scene, including the likes of The Beach Boys and The Beatles. The New York brothers have shown their versatility in the studio (with both of them playing the majority of instruments recorded and even producing the two albums themselves), now it’s time to ‘walk the walk’ in Manchester’s O2 Ritz for the first gig of the UK tour.

It’s no secret that The Lemon Twigs’ stage presence is somewhat bizarre and most definitely something to take a note of, it might just have been what got them on the bill to support Arctic Monkeys on their UK tour back in September. But with every show the powerful glam-rock brothers’ play, the more they grow in confidence, and the more theatrical and peculiar the events that unfold become.

It’s finally show time, here in Manchester. The pair come frantically hopping onto stage, like two cocaine-fuelled kangaroos. Positions are taken, and we kick-start the night into the fifth gear with ‘Never in My Arms, Always in My Heart’. The opening power chords start the night in the way The Lemon Twigs mean to go on tonight, with the occasional snippet of slow tracks, including ‘The Lesson’ and ‘Beautiful’.

I’ll be honest, for the first 30-seconds, it’s almost impossible to take your eyes away from Michael D’Addario, as the 19-year-old is fully coated from head to toe in leather. If you felt that double denim was a bad look, you might just have a new favourite style to hate. Leather trousers so tight, the button explodes off, a sleeveless leather jacket and a head hidden in a leather hat and blacked-out sunglasses. The wardrobe malfunctions were no more than a deliberate ploy, with the bass player (Daryl Johns) wearing a crop top, make-up and even a hand written message on his arm saying “I Love Jazz”.

The entire night is filled with head-scratching moments, but when solely focusing on the music, it is undeniable what talent The Lemon Twigs withhold. Brian D’Addario’s electrifying guitar solos have the capability to elevate any moment of the night, and captivate every person in this venue. But his talent and full potential is displayed during ‘These Words’, his capability behind six strings is undeniable, but maybe an underrated trait would be his unearthly vocals, a dynamic range that is rarely used and used effectively, but mastered by the 21-year-old and bigger brother. Somehow, this innocent looking group of young lads can recreate the feeling of the 70s glam rock scene, but rather than it feeling like a recreation, you question whether or not you’ve actually travelled back in time, as the authentic vibes from the glam rock music scene ooze through this building and you can almost feel the genre’s resurrection as the adolescent lads bring glam rock back to life.

Despite the limited amount of crowd interaction, the Twigs make up for it in drugged up, rambling storytelling and climbing into the crowd while performing ‘Hi + Lo’. “A good looking girl, I’m searching high and low for you!” declares Michael as he climbs the barrier and searches the crowd.

As I mentioned, tonight’s events have most definitely left people scratching their heads, but the one moment that really frazzled the audience’s brain was during the performance of ‘The Fire’. Michael grabs an ominous looking orange object, scrumpled up and hard to make out, before hiding it behind his back for a second. His next movements include putting the orange object, which soon becomes evident that it is a plastic carrier bag, over his face, takes a deep breath in to deprive his oxygen, only to continue singing the next few lines before removing it; his bandmates don’t blink an eye almost as if this was some sort of normal ritual.

The surreal acts of outlandish behaviour from Michael may have stolen the spotlight at times, but nothing could distract the night away from The Lemon Twigs’ outstanding performance and ability to put on a show. A mellower ending to the night as the band finished on ‘If You Give Enough’, but there’s no doubt that the two brilliant brothers had given it their all.

The Lemon Twigs: Official | Facebook | Twitter