Australia & New Zealand round-up
The Tiger Lillies have returned from their Antipodean tour. Here are the reviews and some TV appearances from the trip.
The Tiger Lillies have just completed a very well received tour of Australia and New Zealand. Here are some of the press and TV from the trip.
Cult musical trio The Tiger Lillies is often described as cabaret, but they are hardly piano bar stuff. Lead man Martyn Jacques pounding the ivories with a large black dildo while lustfully singing about cocks and tits is more piano bang than bar. The Tiger Lillies aren?t into acceptable ? the ruder, the more deviant the better, and all mixed into a musical style that is hard to categorize. Part jazz, part oompah-pah Polka and sometimes haunting falsetto, with dead pan theatrics along the way, the material is undeniably dark and grotesque, populated by freak show characters and misbehaving maniacs. While The Tiger Lillies certainly aren?t for everyone, they have no shortage of fans. They tour and perform around the globe extensively and frequently play down under.
Over their abundant career Jacques, Adrian Stout and Adrian Huge have embraced everything from disabled prostitutes and masturbation to pill-popping suicides and lobotomies. Their material is sacrilegious, sadistic, and salacious. This 20 year anniversary show focuses on material from their album Shockheaded Peter, a collection of tales about misbehaving, indulgent children who meet bleak and bloody ends (Cruel Frederick, The dreadful story about Harriet and the matches) and selections from The Gorey End, songs inspired by unpublished stories of writer/ illustrator Edward Gorey. There are plenty of other offerings in the mix and the band even took many requests in an extended encore after the generous two hour show on Wednesday night.
Jacques, in bowler hat and face painted like disturbed clown (he won?t be getting any children?s party gigs with that get-up!) has the piano, accordion and vocals covered while Adrian Huge plays a miniature drum set, complete with baby dolls that double as drumsticks (enthusiastically utilized for Kick a Baby). Adrian Stout covers the contra bass, musical saw and Theremin. Not a typical collection of instruments, but one that really works here. The wide musical samplings make for a dynamic and textured repertoire and Jacques? vocal range sustains and varies the material, even though the overall tone is heavy. From ballad to nursery rhyme lilting to full throttle screaming, he does it all.
It?s a tight act and a tight show and the material, like it or loath it, is well-inhabited and presented with a punchy confidence that only comes with years of familiarity. Not being a Tiger Lillies groupie myself (I?m more an interested onlooker who has seen the group once before), I found I had my fill of the debauchery before show?s end, but clearly I was in the minority, as most of the audience, given the option, would have happily stayed to hear the band?s entire extensive back catalogue. Jacques, Stout and Huge know how to both entertain and provoke, which is probably why they have such a wide and global fan base, but still manage to stay under the mainstream radar.
It's all about shock tactics for the Tiger Lillies, writes Jackson Board.
To have audience members storm out in disgust during the middle of a show sounds like most performers' worst nightmare. But that's how the Tiger Lillies' Martyn Jacques likes it.
During the past 20 years, the Tiger Lillies, a three-piece band, have pushed the boundaries of stage performance further than most. They seem like the result of a twisted experiment to combine avant-garde, bohemian Berlin and the gritty, bizarre underworld of London in the form of a gypsy-troupe cabaret.
Jacques is the overtly devious, clown-like lead singer who trolls in piercing falsetto while his fingers dance frantically along an ornately decorated accordion. His companions, the talented Adrian Huge and Adrian Stout, wield a range of fittingly eccentric instruments, including whistles and musical saws, as the show revels in comic, confronting and mischievous tales of brothels, blasphemy and aberrant sexual behaviours.
After two decades of offending and delighting audiences, the Tiger Lillies are returning to Sydney for a one-night Opera House performance, which will revive some of the group's twisted classics from their successful and more "accessible" 1998 opera, Shockheaded Peter. However, there are no guarantees that audiences will get anything less provocative.
"If the audience irritates me, then I usually get more and more obscene," Jacques says. "But at the end of the night, I want them all to be happy and to have had a great time and they do generally, apart from the ones who have walked out.
"It's always funny when people are offended by what I do ? after all, I'm just an entertainer."
Jacques has come a long way from days as a "punch punk" in the seedy underworld of Soho, yet his songs still encapsulate that disturbed spirit.
How have the band survived without commercial support? Jacques says the band's cult following has thrived because of their "weird and wonderful audience" rather than the support of a record company.
"It's amazing - if you do something really good, then that's all you need," he says. "I'm 50 years old, so my contemporaries are Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet ? they're lucky if they're doing '80s package tours.
"It's a sign that even with all the hype and bullshit that goes on, if you're good enough, you can still get there eventually."
A man in a pig mask announces the arrival of The Tiger Lillies while coughing theatrically. Plague humour ? what wonderful times we live in, at least if you?re as morbid as The Tiger Lillies are. Frontman Martyn Jacques is a degenerate, ginaholic clown in corpsepanda make-up whose falsetto sounds as likely to shatter glass on stage as on record. His drummer, Adrian Huge, and stand-up bassist, Adrian Stout, look like they?ve been rescued from a jazz troupe. Their meowing as they play the cats in The Dreadful Story About Harriet And The Matches gets a laugh and Hamsters (from their album Farmyard Filth ? guess what it?s about) gets more chuckles. This tittering carries over into serious songs, even Trampled Lily?s lament for a whore turning into a gigglefest. The line between the profound and the profane is wilfully blurred as the band take a break in a song about suicide for a spoon solo. The three of them have great stage interplay, Stout leaning over to help Jacques with lyrics when he forgets them and Huge adding sound effects by squeezing a squeaky hamster toy, crackling a wrapper to simulate the fire that does in poor Harriet and bashing the drums with bones and plastic hammers as appropriate to the songs. The hammers come out for Banging In The Nails, in which Jacques sings about crucifying Jesus with gleeful relish as Huge knocks over his kit with the toys. For their encore performance of Fidgety Phil the pig man returns, wheeling out pots and pans. Huge then attacks them with his sticks to simulate Phil fatally bringing the kitchenware down on himself, which the drummer does without breaking rhythm although he knocks down one of the pans. Even when their songs are at their most absurd, The Tiger Lillies remain consummate musicians.
MANY Territorians would have known little about a musical movement created by dark, dirty and highly intelligent cabaret performers before Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen rocked the stage at last year's Darwin Festival.
And now, bearing a style of singing marked by death, sex, literary references and dirty behaviour, comes the grandfathers of the movement, the Tiger Lillies, a three-piece of fifty-somethings on their 20-year anniversary tour.
The brains behind the provocative punk cabaret band that sold out in Melbourne during its 2004 and 2007 visits is frontman, accordionist and lyricist Martyn Jacques, who told the Northern Territory News he likes to swing between high art, horror and obscenity.
"I sing about things which I guess some people don't sing about," he said.
"I sing about death, bestiality, all sorts of unpleasant subjects - I do push the boundaries."
With bandmates Adrian Stout on musical saw and Adrian Huge on drums and percussion, the Lillies don't mind offending audiences - a legacy of Jacques early days as a street performer in London, where he needed to shock passersby to get their attention.
But they have roots sunk deep in European literature.
So among songs based on 19th century children's author, Heinrich Hoffmann, might come a song about streetwalkers and a sadistic poem about the man who knocked the nails through Jesus's hands to hold him to the cross.
The Tiger Lillies play the Lighthouse at the Darwin Festival on August 7 at 9pm.