The Scotsman review of our Edinburgh Fringe gig
TAKING terms like "not for the easily offended" and "not suitable for children" into an entirely new dimension, the Tiger Lillies return to delight their many Edinburgh Fringe fans with another musical wallow in filth and depravity.
By SUE WILSON
THE TIGER LILLIES ****
SPIEGEL GARDEN (VENUE 87)
TAKING terms like "not for the easily offended" and "not suitable for
children" into an entirely new dimension, the Tiger Lillies return to
delight their many Edinburgh Fringe fans with another musical wallow in
filth and depravity. Their pioneering approach to the currently
burgeoning genre of postmodern cabaret combines a Brel-esque fondness
for the demi-monde's dark side, with the incongruous (yet hilarious)
chirpiness of old-fashioned English music hall, all underpinned by
sharp, expert musicianship.
The show's deliciously disturbing off-kilter ambience is compellingly
centred in lead singer Martyn Jacques's remarkable voice, an operatic
mezzo-soprano that would be hard to credit without having witnessed it
emerging from his burly frame, causing this reviewer to wonder
momentarily if the castrato tradition really is a thing of the past.
Combined with Jacques's grotesquely smeared face-paint (its effect
augmented by a fine display of contorted grimaces and eyebrow action),
the effect is to bump up the queasily camp sexual ambiguity that
pervades the performance, which features Adrian Stout on bass and
Adrian Plump on drums alongside Jacques's accordion, piano and ukulele.
Ambiguity is the least of it in some of the more outrageous songs,
which touch on recreational murder and infanticide, compulsive
masturbation and doing unspeakable things to choirboys, while Jacques's
ukulele evokes a diabolically twisted reincarnation of George Formby.
Performed with a manic crispness and glee that reduced the audience to
helpless paroxysms, such material also points an implicit accusing
finger back at us: what on Earth are we doing, laughing at this stuff?
Heightening the unease further are a series of slow, strung-out,
gutter-trawling torch-songs, sensually suffused with anguish, on such
topics as suicide, despair and love for sale. When the trio solicited
audience requests for an encore, one fan was heard shouting for The
Hamster Song. Perhaps mercifully, said rodent's fate was left to our
imaginations on this occasion: they opted instead for a rousing
rendition of their Banging in the Nails - sung from the viewpoint of a
particularly enthusiastic assistant at Jesus's crucifixion.