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There was an atmosphere of eager anticipation as revellers packed into Manchester’s Gorilla to see the D’Addario brothers, Michael and Brian, from New York City, who are signed to the iconic indie label 4AD. The duo were nicely warmed up by the impressive Shock Machine, who were reminiscent of Nick Cave and Metronomy, which is interesting because their drummer happens to be Anna Prior – the drummer from Metronomy! Their bold and energetic frontman, James Righton (of Klaxons fame), stormed onto the stage with in a full red suit and delivered some powerful vocals in their short but impactful set.
The Lemon Twigs hopped onto the stage to the surprise of the audience, greeting us with a polite and friendly welcome, before gliding into ‘I Wanna Prove to You’, which showcased their trademark sound of 70’s-inspired pop-rock and produced the loudest crowd reaction I’ve ever witnessed in Gorilla. Brian’s vocals are strong and certainly wouldn’t sound out of place in the world of musical theatre. Immediately, I notice that there’s something uplifting about The Lemon Twigs, their sound is uniquely positive in such dark times (politically speaking). However, at times, it seems as though their music lacks some of the emotional depth that is delivered by artists contributing to the realm of ‘dark pop’. In other words, The Lemon Twigs put on a show that’s cloaked in artifice and whilst it’s undeniably fun, it can sometimes be hard to take seriously.
‘Haroomata’ begins with some fierce drumming by Michael and once again, Brian’s vocal delivery is excellent, sounding exactly like they do on record. When you’re watching The Lemon Twigs, you feel as though you’re watching the result of 50 years of music history that’s been put in a blender. This song in particular oozes with the influence of Queen, I couldn’t shake the feeling that they were about to bust into ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ at any moment.
Injecting even more vitality into the set, the band announced that they are going to release a new EP in the summer and then proceeded to play ‘Why Didn’t You Say That’, which is an immensely fun track with subtle 90s influences (set to be featured on the upcoming EP). All of their songs start off in one place and end in new territory, which stops the show from becoming ‘boring’ and leaves the audience constantly on edge, wondering what direction their songs are going to take next.
‘Frank’ echoes the grunge heroes Nirvana, as well as elements of folk music, whilst the euphoric ‘These Words’ prompted the biggest singalong moment of the night, featuring another of Michael’s epic drum solos. Around halfway through their set, the dynamics of the band changed even more, as Brian and Michael switched places, with Brian taking the helm at the drums, giving Michael the chance to introduce himself to the crowd.
Michael’s vocals are not quite up to the standard of Brian’s, but instrumentally, the second half of the set is bolder and much more exhilarating. On the whole, The Lemon Twigs are a band with promising potential and they bring a refreshing vintage sound to a predominantly future-focused music industry which is always striving to create new sounds. Perhaps other bands should take a leaf out of The Lemon Twigs’ book and look to the past for inspiration. It certainly seems to have paid off for them!