Edinburgh Festival 2009 Reviews

All reviews of Shockheaded Peter and Other Gory Verses at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2009 will be posted here as they come in. Reactions are positive it would seem!

Reviews of Shockheaded Peter and Other Gory Verses at The Edinburgh Fringe 2009.

The Herald

4 Stars by Rob Adams 25/08/2009

They're back, not just to the Fringe but to the kind of form that saw the Tiger Lillies tear St Stephen's church apart a few years ago before a touch of silliness involving blow-up dolls in a maternity set in.

Here there are no props, unless you count the script for a romp through the alphabet beginning - but, of course - "A is for Arsenic" and the outsized plastic hammer that Adrian Huge takes to his drumkit in a "solo" that makes Keith Moon look reserved by comparison.

Martyn Jacques' manic falsetto voice and the superbly judged accompaniment of accordion, bass, drums and theremin are all that's required to bring the Lillies' eerie, weird and wonderful netherworld tales to three-dimensional life.

There are certain words that Jacques enunciates with more relish, more mischief and more venom than anyone else I can think of. One of these words is "dead". Others are unrepeatable in a family newspaper but Auntie Mabel's secret weapon may be easily deduced - she's no auntie - and as for Flipperboy, this cross between a piranha on steroids and Casanova could seriously harm aquarium sales.

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The Scotsman

4 Stars By CLAIRE SMITH 24/08/2009

IF YOU have never seen the Tiger Lillies before, I urge you to seek out a ticket for this glorious show, which sees them revisit some of the darkest and goriest songs in their repertoire.

The Tiger Lillies are unique: a trio of brilliant musicians led by the clown-faced bowler-hatted twisted falsetto genius Martyn Jacques.

They create a truly extraordinary atmosphere on stage ? a sort of dark gypsy cabaret shimmering with menace. Adrian Huge plays drums with an air of quiet rage, while double bass and musical saw player Adrian Stout adopts an air of detached desperation. At the centre is Jacques, pounding his accordion and singing and screeching in his unearthly voice.

Tonight they revisit a lot of songs from their award-winning musical Shockheaded Peter, based on the violent German children's book by Heinrich Hoffmann, Struwwelpeter, along with a selection from their 20 years as "the world's foremost Death Oompah band".

From Hoffmann's tales there is The Dreadful Tale of Harriet and the Matches, Snip Snip and Bully Boys. Start a Fire is a stirring incitement to pyromania, while to accompany My Baby's Dead toymaster Huge hammers the drums with a doll baby.

Despite the gory imagery and the playground tricks, the Tiger Lillies' music is also gorgeously beautiful, tender and delicate ? although the sweetness is almost always followed by some outrageously funny or horrible twist.

My favourite was the gleeful crucifixion song Banging in the Nails ? which caused the only walkout of the night. As former theology student Jacques sang "Bang a bang bang banging in the nails" a woman near the back stood and walked purposefully to the exit. The lead singer's painted face was a perfect blend of pathos, mischief and defiance.

It is hard to do justice to the dark poetic brilliance of the Tiger Lillies, so the best thing I can advise is that you go and see them yourselves. If you already know what to expect, the good news is the band are doing requests.

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Edinburgh Festivals Mag

5 Stars by Nicol J Craig 21/08/2009

The Tiger Lillies are back again at the Fringe, away from the famous Spiegeltent and into the Pleasance Beyond which takes some of the burlesque features away from the act (most noticeably Ophelia Bitz) and makes us concentrate solely on the twisted repertoire of front man Martyn Jacques.

For those of you unaware of the enigma that is The Tiger Lillies, they are a three-piece musical act that tends to cover subject areas of the dark, the surreal and the manic.

Jacques has adorned black, red and white make-up tonight; he comes across as a ghoulish clown figure. His face sits underneath a bowler hat, it seems to contort and distort in line with his disturbed lyrics. There?s no introduction when they come on stage, and no interaction when they?re on it, the distance between performance and audience is always apparent, this isn?t an act that comes to be with you or to paint a clear idea. They?ll give you ambiguity, perhaps distress; they?re out to shock you.

It?s in this vein that the Brechtian influence can be seen so easily. And it is, exhilarating. There?s not a dull moment; the combination of three peculiar musicians and the visual eccentricity creates a disassociation with the audience. This is what gets the real belly laughs, or more aptly shrieks of preposterous glee. It?s difficult to get on board with a chorus that repeatedly screeches ?and I kicked the baby down the stairs?. For the feint hearted, it?s difficult to laugh. For the rest of us, it?s comic brilliance.

Irreverence is a constant characteristic. Songs like ?Masterbating Jimmy?, ?Piss on your Grave? and ?Banging in the Nails? (a slightly different take on the death of Christ) are just some of the songs that demand your attention.

Backing up the main vocalist is Adrian Huge on drums and percussion and Adrian Stout on upright bass, musical saw and Theremin. The instrumentation in itself is gifted; Huge takes root on what resembles a child?s drum-kit, his demeanour exudes the same sentiment. He adds to the show in a variety of ways, whether it?s smashing the drum-kit in rock star fashion with a pair of inflatable hammers or playing along to ?Kick a Baby Down the Stairs? with a baby doll?s head used against the cymbals his comic timing is undoubted.

Martyn Jacques singing voice alternates between two distinct alter egos. The first is high-pitched, in a falsetto manner, and the other growls filth with menace. The former, although sung with an impressive range of vocal ability, sounds like an overbearing school matron - which intertwines disdainful observations with repentant remarks and an ability to mix all sorts of putrid contrition?s, often all in the same song.

The Tiger Lillies are a hugely impressive act that will never fail to enthral on some level, their professionalism both as stage performers and musicians leaves a lasting stain on the conscious. Whether you are impressed or offended is up to you.

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5 stars by Martin Miller

The Tiger Lillies are an award-winning three piece band who consists of charismatic and pleasantly twisted lead vocalist and accordion player, Martyn Jacques, drummer and all around entertainer Adrian Huge and finally Adrian Stout who sings, plays the musical saw, the theremin, backing vocals and bass.

They take to the stage dressed in clown make-up and vaudeville 1920?s suits and for the next hour they are never anything less than brilliant. Jacques is a great front man, sinister and creepy, and sings with a falsetto voice that is not a thousand miles away from Barry Humphries infamous character, Dame Edna. His unusual voice perfectly complements the strange, funny and at times unsettling songs about flipper boys, women falling in love with their pimps, being the man who nailed Jesus to the cross and taking out your anger on children. Subjects which may seem shocking but has each and every member of the audience whooping, cheering and singing along to at the top of their lungs.

These three men are sensational to watch singing dark, twisted songs that have a haunting beauty about them and performing them with a frantic energy that surely must have every audience mentally figuring out what day they are free so they can come and see them again.

The Tiger Lillies are an incredible tour-de-force, miss them at your peril.

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From the Sublime to the Darkly Delicious

4 Stars by Chris Learmonth

From the first few seconds of the opening song 'Drowning', the Tiger Lillies show just why they've achieved worldwide cult following. The atmosphere generated is simply stunning; setting you up for an hour of darkly magical music with a little onstage mayhem.

The Tiger Lilles, a three-piece alt-cabaret band, play a selection of classics from their 20 year catalogue. The set is a mixture of darkly moving songs, such as the tale of 'Pretty Lisa', whose "tattoos hide her bruises every time", to the absurdly Pythonesque 'Aunty Mable', not your average chick!

The highlight is the beautifully sad and haunting material which is guaranteed to stay with you long after the show (the saw playing has to be heard to be believed). It's a shame that once the dark mood has been masterfully generated, the band swiftly jump back into the humorous crowd pleasing cult songs, though such is the quality of the material, you can forgive them.

One of the great aspects of the Fringe is the diversity of performance spaces available. Sadly, the band are let down by the blandness of the Pleasance Courtyard , which doesn't do justice to the wonderful music they conjure. Confusingly, the house lights fade on at certain songs, presumably for the audience to join in (which never happened). I for one was happier when plunged back into darkness to let the band continue their twisted musical journey.

I've now joined the band of cult followers, and look forward to seeing them again, but hopefully is a more atmospheric venue.