Before I start to talk about ‘The Twigs’ (as no-one calls them), it’s worth mentioning support act Matt Maltese, who’s unassuming yet brilliant set reminded me of Rufus Wainwright in his prime… check him out when you have a chance.
You would expect the ‘unassuming’ theme to lift with the Lemon Twigs, due to, and I guess I mean this in a kind way, the way they look – as if, having realised that they’re running late for the gig, they’ve careered through a Shoreditch vintage shop and grabbed what they could. In the dark. This seemed to be a waste of time for the drummer anyway, as his top was off by about three songs in… he should have worn some trackie bottoms… much more comfortable.
The stage set is kept simple – no unfurling of a band logo, no confetti cannons a la Flaming Lips… maybe the always stirring surroundings of the Roundhouse (plus the lead’s haircuts and 9% body fat) were deemed enough of an attraction. It almost reminded me of watching a band perform of 70s Top of the Pops… I mean I wasn’t alive in the 70s, but it’s how I imagine it would have been.
So – anyway – the music, and the musicality…. it’s bloody extraordinary. Every instrumentalist - and multi-instrumentalist - is a virtuoso. The jamming, the ‘wigging out’ (no pun intended), it’s all incredibly impressive. It even has elements of Status Quo... which I thought I’d hate much more to be honest. It’s also worth mentioning The Kinks, Monkees, Beach Boys, and ELO here… I wouldn’t want a Quo comparison to go unchallenged.
There’s a great crowd atmosphere, and one of the most impressive mosh pits I’ve seen in a while – which is made extra brilliant when you remind yourself that some of the songs they’re butting shoulders to are about a chimpanzee brought up as a human ('Go To School', 2018). But even with guitar, bass, keys, and voice acrobatics that make your mouth drop open, I still feel a distance between band and audience, as if they don’t quite know how to interact with them. Blue ribband banger ‘I Wanna Prove to You’ is a massive, soaring highlight… though apparently not for lead singer-with-Jagger-complex Michael D’Addario, who introduces it as the song they would use to torture him if he went to prison. They’ve only spent three years playing it – imagine if Macca felt like that?
With all the bombast and virtuoso… erm… ism, it’s in the quieter and tighter moments that The Lemon Twigs shine with their harmonies and delicacy, such as the dazzling ‘As Long As We’re Together’, ‘These Words’ and touching finale ‘If You Give Enough’… basically, it’s all very well being virtuoso, but keep it in your pants now and then, lads.
I would advise you to see this band, and listen to their records, they’re something unique in the current landscape. Yet when Michael D’Addario sang one of the songs though a Sainsbury’s orange plastic bag, I couldn’t help but notice - because I’m pretentious - that is was a good analogy for the barrier between band and audience.
But they’re young – maybe they’ll grow into that part. And also, don’t put a Sainsbury’s carrier bag over your head at home, kids… use a Waitrose one.
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Words: Matt Charlton // @Matt_Charlton
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