No gilding these Lillies
Martyn Jacques has been described as many things: morbid, pervert, satanist, sheep shagger, blasphemer and throbbing pustule. And that's just the positive reviews. Article from the Age, Melbourne.
February 9, 2007
Martyn Jacques and his Tiger Lillies love to provoke, writes Fiona Scott-Norman.
MARTYN Jacques has been described as many things: morbid, pervert,
satanist, sheep shagger, blasphemer and throbbing pustule. And that's
just the positive reviews.
More accurately, he's an
entertainer, albeit a playful one who rather enjoys it when a
smattering of miffed Christians stomp out of his gigs as he sings about
hammering nails through the hands of Jesus.
the falsetto lead singer, accordionist, creative force and songwriter
of The Tiger Lillies, a cult English cabaret trio with 18 albums to
their name, all dealing mordantly and humorously with putrescence,
despair, prostitution, violence, sex, farm animals and death in a
soaring, decadent, vaudeville style.
Polite, intelligent and
charming off duty, as a writer and performer the Slough-born Jacques is
reflexively provocative, drawn to the dark underbelly of human
existence as surely as a vulture to carrion.
impression of life that it is rather dark. The way we feel, decay, grow
old. Generally, there's a lot of darkness and pain in our existence.
Every so often I meet someone who seems to be genuinely happy, and I'm
rather sceptical. I've had arguments with happy people, suggesting
The Tiger Lillies, who are on a world tour,
have an impressive canon of work. Their gothic musical Shockheaded
Peter is renowned, and they have had an excellent response to recent
works The Little Match Girl, a collaboration called Plague Songs, and
The Weber Women, an opera about Mozart's obsession with a woman and her
Jacques, a one-time philosophy major, was thrown
out of the University of Wales for dealing drugs, wearing women's
clothes, failing his exams and placing a severed pig's head on a church
altar to irritate the theology students. He now funnels his provocative
nature into his work.
"What I do is against the mainstream in
many respects; against daytime TV and the mindless blandity of
contemporary, mainstream culture that doesn't confront issues in any
kind of way. It's all beautiful healthy young people smiling and
selling products. It's all fake.
"I try and confront things
with humour and intelligence, irony and sadness - I'm just trying to
look at things and talk about them in interesting ways. I don't want to
have to limit myself to singing about how beautiful this girl is, and
what a great pair of tits, or eyes . . ."
With songs such as
Maggots, Abort the Child, Beat Me, Piss on Your Grave and Rapist, it's
fair to say The Tiger Lillies have carved out an alternative niche.
There will be at least two new songs in their shows - Heroin, written
from the perspective of the drug and how pleasing it is to destroy
people's lives, and Woyceck, based on the Herzog film in which a
soldier kills his adulterous wife and suicides.
"It's a cheery
little tune. Look, I don't do darkness and misery all the time, I mix
things up. If you create different moods it's entertaining throughout.
The most awful thing you can do on stage is bore people."
Colourful, brash and with a driving, enchanted, apocalyptic, gypsy-punk
sound, The Tiger Lillies are the antithesis of boring. The meaning of
one song from the Farmyard Filth CD had been eluding me - Vagina (in
the Sky). What's that about then?
"It's about a giraffe," says Jacques. "See, it's not all gloom and doom."
The Tiger Lillies play at North Melbourne Town Hall, 521 Queensberry
Street, North Melbourne, on February 16 and 17, 7.30pm, 9639 0096.