Review of the concerts at the Sydney Opera House Jan 18-21 in The Australian.
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.