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Cult cabaret trio The Tiger Lillies played Melbourne for two nights last weekend.

Fresh from the Perth and Sydney Festivals, cult cabaret trio The Tiger Lillies played Melbourne for two nights last weekend. Recent calls from Reverend Fred Nile to ban their act appear to have gilded them into filthily fine fettle.

http://www.theage.com.au/news/arts-reviews/the-tiger-lillies/2007/02/15/1171405343590.html#

Cameron Woodhead, Reviewer
February 19, 2007

The Tiger Lillies deal with putrescence, despair, prostitution, violence and death in a soaring, decadent, vaudeville style.

Fresh from the Perth and Sydney Festivals, cult cabaret trio The Tiger Lillies played Melbourne for two nights last weekend. Recent calls from Reverend Fred Nile to ban their act appear to have gilded them into filthily fine fettle.

Essentially, the Lillies are inspired by the fallen world of Weimar cabaret, by Brecht and Weill and the songs of Jacques Brel. And if the world has fallen further than anyone could have imagined since the '20s and '30s, the Lillies have fallen with it.

The lyrics overflow with images conjuring a gothic demimonde of deviants, whores, addicts, and psychos. "Life's a sideshow attraction," lead singer Martyn Jacques wails early in the piece, "death, decay and disease."

And every pervert wins a prize in the grime of the Lillies' amoral satire. There are songs about arson, amputee prostitutes, incestuous rape; about kicking babies down stairs and having sex with flies. The blasphemous Banging In The Nails takes delight in crucifying Jesus, while in Heroin Jacques transforms himself into a living incarnation of the death-dealing drug.

Though they range from anarchic and ridiculous ditties to morbid ballads of unexpected poignancy, these tunes are all consistently and deliciously vile.

Indeed, the only thing white about the Lillies is lead singer Martyn Jacques' face paint. With his bowler hat and ponytail, Jacques looks like the ghoulish mockery of a clown. He wields his accordion as if it were a third arm, and his edgy, subversive vocal technique matches the extremities of the lyrics, as he alternates between piercing, shrill falsetto and a Tom Waits-like, trachea-scraping growl.

The lackadaisical Adrian Stout on bass, when he's not carving up the bow, is the absolute pizz. (He also plays the saw to spectral effect.) And Adrian Huge is comically manic on percussion - whether he's engaged in an air solo to die for, or using a plastic baby as a drumstick.

The Lillies festered their way through two extended sets, and the requests kept on coming, so that the show ran almost an hour over time. But they're such consummate live performers, so exuberant and nasty and musically inventive it was impossible to begrudge them a second of it.

Who knows? Fred Nile may be right, and we'll burn in hell for turning up to see the Tiger Lillies. Who cares? It will have been worth it.

 

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