THE LEMON TWIGS, JACK LADDER
The Outpost, Brisbane
Tuesday, 31 October 2023
IT'S HALLOWEEN and the freaks are out to play in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley. To be fair, this is normal for Friday and Saturday night when this area heaves harder than any crammed music festival, but considering it's Tuesday night, one can assume the fake blood, cobwebs and outrageous outfits are indeed for Halloween. There are none creepier than a woman in the alley on Warner Street with lunchbox in hand, apparently full of cake for her idol, Jack Ladder. Turns out that she made the same mistake and is looking for The Outpost entry - it's now from the front, next to the Fortitude Music Hall from the Brunswick Street Mall - time to edit your Google details, team!
Sydney auteur Jack Ladder is indeed opening tonight's show, an odd choice on paper perhaps, but one that makes total sense once the Weyes Blood connection is realised. The man is quite plugged in, after all. Tonight he is dressed in his finest of scarecrow-looking get-ups, (it's unclear if this is actually a Halloween costume) and has Billy Charles Fisher by his side. The pair begin on an acoustic guitar for 'Hurtsville', almost as a reminder that they are, in fact, real musicians before leaping into the synth-driven material of the big man's latest opus, Tall Pop Syndrome, for the rest of the short but immensely sweet set. Once instruments are down and arms are free, Ladder flounces about with the consummate charisma the charmer is known for. You can see the penny slowly drop slowly for audience members as 'Home Alone' is played - the list of late, great legends Ladder has noted at the end of the song as being "in the house" seems to reel each and every smiling face in one at a time. The electronic Jack Ladder, largely mid-paced four to the floor beats, is truly excellent and another aspect of one of our country's finest songwriters and musicians. 'I'm Melting' and 'Co-Dependency Blues' round out the set, one that is so short that it does whet the whistle and hopefully sends this crowd home to listen to more of this legend's music.
While admittedly not entirely familiar with The Lemon Twigs beforehand, experiencing their live performance at The Outpost quickly sets remarkably high standards for memorable shows. Since their debut album Do Hollywood in 2016, the Long Island quartet has been sought after for collaborations, contributing to projects such as Foxygen's work with Jonathan Rado and Weyes Blood's Titanic Rising. Their latest album, Everything Harmony, showcases a dedication to authenticity and craftsmanship, blending influences from The Beatles to more experimental sounds, making it one of the standout releases of 2023.
From the moment they leap into their 2020 single "The One", The Outpost is transported to a different time and space, infused with a reminiscent aura of The Summer of Love. Their glorious melodies and air-tight harmonies, as heard in tracks like "In My Head" and "Ghost Run Free", evoke energy from the audience, their smiles reflecting the joyous atmosphere created by the shaggy-haired brothers.
One can sense the hard work put in by The Lemon Twigs. Their no-frills display of remarkable musicianship is evident as they seamlessly transition between songs while maintaining tight control over intricate guitar solos and energetic stage antics. For those nostalgic for the vigor of rock's heyday, their performance offers a beacon of hope, proving that the spirit of rock is alive and well.
Live renditions of songs from their previous album, such as the Springsteen-esque "Hell On Wheels", highlight the band's ability to merge diverse inspirations into a cohesive performance. Shades of The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and even Elliott Smith can be detected. Closing the set with "Leather Together", the band leaves a lasting impression of their dedication to preserving the spirit of '60s and '70s rock.
For the encore, Brian's solo performance of "When Winter Comes Around", followed by covers of The Beach Boys' "This Whole World" and The Beatles' "Hold Me Tight", further showcases their sincerity, versatility, and reverence for classic rock. It's refreshing to witness a band like The Lemon Twigs thrive in an era dominated by pop music. They truly serve as a stark reminder of the power of live instrumentation and charismatic showmanship, breathing new life into the rock genre.