There’s a particular moment tonight, in the middle of their set, as The Lemon Twigs play “How Lucky Am I?” where the charm and dynamics of the brothers D’Addario and their debut album Do Hollywood comes magically to life.
Such is the beauty of the delivery, the previously raucous atmosphere at the first of their two nights at London’s Moth Club (28th November) is reduced to a hushed and reverential silence. Brian, the elder of the D’Addarios, plays keyboards and sings a blissful anthem of love, whilst Michael shares a microphone with keyboardist Danny Ayala, his louder, wilder voice providing the perfect counterpoint to his brothers singing.
The first half of their show sees Brian as the frontman - greeting us with “My Twiglets!” - and Michael on drums as they tear into “I Wanna Prove To You”. It's note perfect, an ideal antidote to weather in London, warm and sunny, one of those magical moments where you’re transported by music, though tonight it's to California rather than Hackney. Their harmonies with Ayala are pitch perfect, bassist Megan Zeankowski holds the beat wonderfully as Michael’s drum fill signals the slower tempo of the outro to ecstatic and rapt applause.
Before playing a new song, “Why Didn’t You Say That” Brian says “What’s going on England? What’s going on London? What’s going on Moth Club? What’s going on with the guy over there?” The ease and confidence of their years spent on the stage as child actors belies such aplomb. The song itself bodes well for their new material, it channels Big Star (they later cover an Alex Chilton song) and The Monkees, but the brio they bring to the song and performance is unmistakeably of their own making.
The brothers exchange banter that’s the sort of off the cuff, playful chat which makes watching them live so engrossing and entertaining. As they finish their conversation Michael starts playing an almost Heavy Metal drum solo, which drifts into the staccato beat of “These Words”, the song so beloved of one of their most ardent admirers, Elton John. John isn’t to be seen in Hackney tonight (unless he was here in disguise and given how packed the venue is, who knows, perhaps he is?) but they’re increasingly drawing admirers from music’s aristocracy.
A post-show picture of them with David Bowie’s erstwhile producer, Tony Visconti appeared on Twitter shortly after they walked off stage. And for all that words like ‘baroque’ have been labelled at them, “These Words” possesses an innate funk, Ayala’s keyboard riff could have easily featured on a Jackson 5 song.
Then we get that moment on “How Lucky Am I”. Wherever they’re playing festivals next summer, mark your calendar for it, you’ll blub, you’ll feel loved up, but be warned, you’ll probably want to hug someone.
Michael then takes front of the stage, picking up the guitar as Brian steps behind the drums. There’s a significant difference between the brothers’ songs and performances and that’s the key to why they work so well together live and on record. Brian’s are meticulously structured, Michael’s are brilliantly chaotic.
On “Baby, Baby” he high-kicks to the beat, it’s a rawer, but equally rewarding take on their songcraft. In the context of such a performance, the joy that is “As Long As We’re Together” shows their opening shot on the public consciousness was no fluke and when their voices coalesce on the line, “Hey you must not know yourself very well” it underlines the differences in their voices but highlights how they complement each other.
When we interviewed them Brian told us “I’m just glad that we can do something that’s fully the two of us, it doesn’t feel like there’s a missing element to it.” And that’s the key, there’s nothing missing, not an ego fighting to be at the front, their approach is, if anything, a socialist one, where the right person for each job takes said job on.
As they take their leave The Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind?” blasts over the PA. So where is The Lemon Twigs mind right now? Watching them tonight my guess is, to borrow a line from The Carpenters, who their father wrote a song for, it’s on top of the world.