Same-old, same-old? Nope!

The Tiger Lillies are not like any band you've seen before

The Tiger Lillies are not like any band you've seen before

I  DON'T know about you, but I personally get tired of all these run-of-the-mill concerts by uninteresting bands.

Just Sunday night, I was thinking this as I watched the Tiger Lillies,

a London-based Victorian/Brechtian accordion-based Gothic folk trio

wearing bowler hats and striped suits, as they crooned a bestiality

love song while the drummer inflated a flirty-looking sheep and used it

to pound out a rhythm on his drums and the singer - face painted white

- peeled the paint off the cabaret walls with his unearthly, operatic


Like I say, find a new approach; this one's getting boring.

The truth is, it takes a lot to make me scratch my head anymore and say

now THAT'S different. And the cultish Tiger Lillies, fresh from

providing the music for ACT's enormously popular "Shockheaded Peter,"

did that in spades, with a fascinating, often hilarious, always

bizarre, two-hour show at Bimbo's.

In fact it was SO

different - so provocative and strange - that, like many acts that walk

a tightrope between novelty and immortality, a little of it went a long

way. By the end of the lengthy show by


irreverent-bordering-on-offensive trio - and Martyn Jacques' singing,

which is NOT easy on the ears and could be compared to either Tiny Tim

or Monty Pythons' Terry Jones in drag - I was was happy to applaud and

be on my way.

But it's a small quibble to bring against such

a memorable experience. It was a riveting show - mainly by virtue of

the fact that you didn't know what they'd do next - and one that

rewarded the faithful with a medley of their darkest, sickest tunes.

(Tiger Lillies' audience is small - although big enough to pack the

North Beach club - but devoted.)

"I'll pick you up early

from the school gates," screeches Jacques (also chief songwriter)

ominously, who then lists a host of naughty things he plans to do with

his schoolgirl, including "feed you narcotics/ make sure you're


"Am I bad?" he entreats his two sidemen. "Yes, he's bad," they sing in response. You can say that again.

Like the tunes penned for "Shockheaded Peter," which dealt with the

grisly and terrible things that happen to children who disobey ("Willy

Wonka" meets "Halloween"), Jacques'

other material - culled

from nine albums over the band's decade-plus history - was equally

disturbing. And occasionally, surprisingly poignant. Fortunately, he

varied the pace from Monty Python-esque vaudeville to slower ballads,

so the audience would have time to catch its breath.


Marlene," (not Marlene Dietrich's WWII-era classic) about a prostitute

who died at age 20, was affecting, as was a song entitled "Beat Me,"

about a sadomasochistic relationship. There WERE occasional moments of

truth, where irony was kept at bay. But mostly, the Lillies played it

for humor and shock value.

"I'm crucifying Jesus, nailing

him to the cross/the poor old bastard bleeds to death and I don't give

a toss/ I'm bang, bang, bang, banging in the nails . . . " howled

Jacques in his corrosive soprano, while bass player Adrian Stout and

drummer Adrian Huge whipped their instruments into a march and dancing

erupted in the aisles.

"Roll Up," was also a spirited romp,

in which he calls out to a cast of misfits - junkies, whores and

"Frankie the brain-dead boxer" - to join him in his merriment. They

went for broke with two songs about "animal love":


(in which he laments his inability to have sex with a swarm) and

"Sheep," as close to a production number as the Lillies came, with both

the inflatable sheep and a windup one that paraded across the front of

the stage.

"Suicide" was the focus of a song by that name,

during which the protagonist dreams of ending it all, in colorful ways.

"Car Crash" was just plain sick and twisted, with little resonant

humor. (A few of the songs relied too heavily on a one-line joke; at

times they were flogged too heavily.)

They broke from

original material to do a stunning Gothic version of Johnny Cash's "25

Minutes to Go," a song that lent itself perfectly to the Lillies'

repertoire, by virtue of the fact that it was about a condemned man's

last 25 minutes of life. Jacques' ending, during which he feigned

hanging, was a bit over-the-top, and could have been considered gilding

(no pun intended) the lily.