Sydney Review

Review of the concerts at the Sydney Opera House Jan 18-21 in The Australian.,5744,17874736%5E5001562,00.html
Risque cabaret nails it

by Deborah Jones


Jacques paints his face white, his eyes and lips red and sings in a

falsetto that sounds as if it has a tiny speck of dirt in it; just the

thing to dilute the sweetly ethereal quality associated with the head


The slightly roly-poly Jacques cuts an arresting figure

as he leads the Tiger Lillies, a trio of idiosyncratic musicians

dedicated to reporting on life's underbelly. The influences are Berlin

cabaret and the gutter, with a strong underpinning of anarchic humour.

Banging in the Nails is not, in the world of the Tiger Lillies, a song

in praise of home renovation. It's a singalong, clap-along ditty about

the crucifixion, which would be as low as it's possible to go in terms

of taste, yes?

Well no. In their Sydney Festival set -

conveniently spruiked by the Reverend Fred Nile, who this week called

for the show to be banned - the Tiger Lillies sing of man-sheep love,

prostitution and rape, and vomit and urine are freely evoked. The

masturbation stuff is the lighter relief, if you'll forgive the


Obviously this is not a show to appeal to Mr Nile

or Disgusted of Adelaide, but to opt out is to miss three exceptionally

fine musicians in a highly sophisticated - and, okay, hilariously

filthy - form of cabaret.

The three don't bother with patter

and with their lyrics don't need to. But it's not all about the

transgressive words. The rhythms (lots of 4/4 and 3/4) and evocative

musical textures do a lot of talking too. Jacques plays great piano,

accordion and ukelele while the relaxed Adrian Stout holds things

together on bass and doubles up on the musical saw.


percussionist Adrian Huge, looking for all the world like a twinkly

trainspotter, works suavely with a tiny, cymbal-encrusted drum kit and

has an eclectic approach to percussion that's almost a show in itself.