lemontwigs twoLemon Twig Brian D'Addario.

The Lemon Twigs
+ Jack Ladder
Manning Bar, Sydney
Saturday 28 October, 2023

Photos: Shona Ross

The Lemon Twigs are Long Island, NY, resident brothers Brian and Michael D'Addario and are on their second visit to Australia since 2017. They’ve been on the playlist in our house for four or five years at our youngest family member’s insistence and it was deemed compulsory we attend this show on their short tour.

The show at the Manning Bar was opened by Jack Ladder who had done a spot on the NSW Spencer P Jones Tribute bill a few years back. My recollection from then was that Ladder did a set of acoustic tunes solo and was well received. Tonight, he appeared in a duo with an Epiphone parlour guitar and an accompanist and started off in much the same vein. 

After the first track they both dropped the guitars and delivered a set of electro infused pop driven by a Mac laptop, and some form of keyboard and drum machine. There seemed to have been quite a shift in his direction and was well received by the growing throng, although the private discussions on stage became bewildering, and by the time the set finished he seemed glad to be out of there.

Michael D'Addario.

After a mercifully short changeover, The Lemon Twigs sauntered onto the stage in a low-key way with long-term sideman, bassist and keyboard player Danny Ayala and drummer Reza Matin. They kicked off with “The One” from “Songs for the General Public and it was evident from the start we were in for something extraordinary. 

The brothers spent the next two hours delivering perfectly crafted power pop songs with sublime vocal harmonies from all four members. They swapped instruments with the bass player taking over keys, the singer swapping to bass and Michael D'Addario jumping behind the kit while the drummer picked up his walnut Rickenbacker for a few tracks. All without missing a beat or dropping in quality.

The band ripped through tracks from their extensive back catalogue of four full albums and EP and a cassette, including “In My Head”, “Ghost Run Free”, “Corner of My Eye”, and delivered some of the finest modern pop and vocal stylings I’ve ever heard. They goofed around and cracked gags as the crowd lapped it up and frankly adored them. That Brian is only 26 and Michael 24 is extraordinary.

They trudged off for the pantomime encore and Brian returned solo to deliver a stunning rendition of “When Winter Comes Around” from their current opus, “Everything Harmony”. They then exposed their deep ‘60s roots by kicking into a pair of covers, The Beach Boys’ “The Whole World” and The Beatles’ “Hold Me Tight”.

lemontwigs oneTwo Twigs turning lemon into lemonade.

I’d been sitting on the fence about this band for a few years; the live clips I’d seen and some of the songs didn’t quite seem to gel, but it appears that they have found their voice and cohesive direction of late, and it suits them. I cannot recall a band that nails jangle pop and harmony in such a spectacular way… not even Teenage Fanclub at their peak came close, or were ever this good. 

The words “excellent”, “brilliant” or other superlatives aren’t sufficient. They’re playing Adelaide and Queensland before they head back home. If you get a chance, go see them. You won’t be disappointed.