Five star Guardian review of The Tiger Lillies/Alexander Hacke at QEH
As part of the South Bank's Ether festival, Lovecraft's fantasies have been turned into a baroque musical cabaret named Mountains of Madness by the unlikely pairing of veteran avant-garde London vaudeville trio the Tiger Lillies and Alexander Hacke.
Tuesday March 21, 2006
***** Queen Elizabeth Hall, London
HP Lovecraft was a curious cove. A keen disciple of Edgar Allan Poe,
Lovecraft wrote similarly florid, macabre pulp horror fiction in the
early 20th century, setting it in a nightmare world of melodramatic
As part of the South Bank's Ether
festival, Lovecraft's fantasies have been turned into a baroque musical
cabaret named Mountains of Madness by the unlikely pairing of veteran
avant-garde London vaudeville trio the Tiger Lillies and Alexander
Hacke, the electronics alchemist of German noise terrorists
Einst?rzende Neubauten. Between them, they produce an audacious
Lovecraft's saturnine musings were indubitably
preposterous, but Tiger Lillies transform them into rich Brechtian
musical theatre by treating them with a generous, deadpan exaggerated
respect. Their consummate musicianship effortlessly translates the
absurdity of tall tales such as The Case of Dexter Ward into a brooding
air of foreboding.
With his white-painted face, bowler hat
and falsetto, the Tiger Lillies' singer Martyn Jacques is a charismatic
focus. Trudging between his piano and accordion like a man weighed down
by supernatural dread, he resembles a melancholic amalgam of Cabaret's
Joel Grey and Meat Loaf - yet his voice, on tremulous anthems such as
The Rats in the Walls, is a molten cascade. The Call of Cthulhu and
feverish The Butcher suggest Jacques Brel with serious paranoia issues.
Hacke, for his part, glowers behind his equipment and recites
Lovecraft's lurid doggerel in a stentorian Teutonic growl. This
delicious dark cabaret is Kurt Weill as scripted by Aleister Crowley,
and the execution is impeccable throughout. Phenomenal.