The Lemon Twigs


The Lemon Twigs couldn’t care less about what you think is cool. The objectionably young brothers Michael and Brian D’Addario have evidently been force fed the uber-melodic AOR 70s rock of ELO, Supertramp, Todd Rundgren and Wings since the dawn of their ability to absorb sound, and have been churning it over in their minds, finding ways to push and pull it into new, transgressive shapes. What results is what some may dismiss as music that falls into the ‘guilty pleasure’ territory, but it’s safe to assume the band would scoff at the phrase.

Their debut album, last year’s Do Hollywood, is a treasure trove. For those of a certain persuasion, it holds the same excitement that you get from dusting down a tremendously obscure, slightly tatty and dusty old vinyl from the very bottom of the bargain bin at the local record exchange, only to find the most sparkling and glistening jewels in its grooves. It rightly dominates the set tonight, and the Friday night audience are gagging to throw their arms in the air and belt out these songs without shame.

The band are played on by the majestic ‘And It Stoned Me’ by Van Morrison, and the crowd’s very first chance to let out their withheld excitement comes with opener ‘I Want To Prove To You’, and it’s like a pressure valve has been released. In over a decade of gig-going in Manchester, I can’t confidently say I’ve seen more Cheshire cat grins all at the same time at a venue, nor a more enthusiastic cheer at an opening song’s climax.

The band sprinkle songs from their recent EP, Brothers Of Destruction, throughout the set. These songs showcase a slightly more refined, controlled side to the brothers’ theatrics, and whilst still performed with a sizzle, they might hint at a more sober future for the band. Nevertheless, ‘Why Didn’t You Say That?’ is one of the night’s high spots.

All of the histrionics shouldn’t distract from the fact that they write incredibly genuine, vulnerable songs though, as if hiding the true meaning in plain sight. ‘Baby, Baby’ and ‘How Lucky Am I?’ are both longing, moving numbers, despite the light-hearted decorations around them.

Brian takes the lead for the first two thirds or so of the set, with Michael on drums, and to use a hackneyed comparison, his portion is the McCartney part. When Michael assumes centre stage for the closing stages, things get considerably more raunchy and debauched. “You’re all about to witness some supernatural shit,” he helpfully informs us, before they launch into a mesmeric song from their half-written second album.

The main set finishes with ‘As Long As We’re Together’, another deceptively touching song, before they return for a two-song encore of ‘Do Hollywood’ bonus tracks ‘Light And Love’ and ‘Queen Of My School’, bringing the same infectious joy to lesser known songs as to their biggest, and in doing so, coaxing it out of us too. Outside the Ritz in the minutes after the gig finishes, I hear people humming and singing three different Lemon Twigs songs. They’re just that kind of band.

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Max Pilley

I'm a refugee in Manchester, having successfully escaped Birmingham in 2007. I'm a soon-to-be journalism student, used to edit the music section of the Manchester Uni paper, and have done a little radio production to boot. I've been adding bits and pieces to Silent Radio since 2012, mostly gig reviews, but a few albums too. Also hoping now to get involved with the brilliant radio show. When doing none of that, you can usually find me at some gig venue somewhere around town.