Friday, January 18, 2019

The Tiger Lillies: Hear Them Growl!

by VeroniqueChevalier (writer), West Hollywood, October 07, 2007


Perhaps you've heard of the Dresden Dolls and their "Punk" Cabaret. This incendiary duo is taking the world by storm with their eclectic merging of rock and dark chanson. Not to belittle their considerable accomplishments, but they are not quite the innovators many would believe them to be.

Oh no, dear me, indeed not! In this case, we must brace ourselves for a British invasion, the sort of which has not been seen in recent memory. For the true champions of the tormented spirit of Bertholdt Brecht and Kurt Weill hail from that island nation so infamous for its abundance of musical madmen: the UK.

The ensemble in question? The Tiger Lillies. Brace yourselves for their imminent visit to our shores within the next few weeks. Get your tickets now, for you will want to someday tell your grandchildren about how you witnessed their twisted original artistry.

According to Wikipedia the Tiger Lillies are: "...A three-piece band, based in London, featuring Martyn Jacques- Vocals, accordion, ukulele, piano; Adrian Huge - Drums, percussion, toys; Adrian Stout - Contra bass, musical saw, vocals.

Formed in 1989, they have toured world-wide and won acclaim with their opera Shockheaded Peter. (My note: Shockheaded Peter is an Edward Gorey-esque treatise of what happens to naughty little boys and girls, and is most definitely not suitable for the kiddies).

Their surreal style has been described as darkly humorous, Brechtian, gypsy cabaret. They are also notorious for singing controversial songs involving bestiality, prostitution and blasphemy, shocking unsuspecting audiences. In 1999 their work was featured in the film Plunkett & Macleane.

The Tiger Lillies were nominated for a Grammy award for their 2003 album The Gorey End, which was a collaboration of sorts with the writer/illustrator Edward Gorey and the Kronos Quartet."

From what I've seen of them on YouTube, and heard from friends and associates who have witnessed them live, they are brilliant and original. How many musical ensembles have you previously encountered who bill themselves as "...A criminal castrati and his accordion driven anarchic Brechtian street opera trio performing their unique mix of falsetto crooning and gypsy strangeness"? (As described on their website).

But wait, there's more! They also recently released a book containing over 200 sets of lyrics from all the songs found on their 16 recordings over the entire span of their career. The book is illustrated by the images of photo aritst "b7ue" who followed and documented the band the entire time.

The resultant tome, with its pristine white and softly padded cover (vaguely reminiscent in feel to a cushy toilet seat, which is an apt metaphor to contain what is within its pages) is a veritable time capsule of these living, breathing "Fleurs de Mal". The front section of the book shows the lads in the early days, looking really rather dapper about the edges, but as time and tides take their toll, we find the fellows looking not too unlike Kurt Weill's hapless "Drowned Girl", a bit bloated and worse for the wear.

Never fear, for what they now lack in dash, they more than make up for in sheer stage presence and audacious antics. Unlike poor Marion Jones, I rather doubt that they dope themselves up in order to fuel their world-class performances. (This is not to imply that they might not tipple, snort or puff on various and sundry substances on occasion, however their shows never betray any deviation from their commitment to delivering their artistry in the most energized, unapologetic and in-your-face manner).

And so how many ''criminal castrati" does it take to fill The Swedish American Hall in San Francisco, Sushi Performance and Visual Art, in San Diego, or Royce Hall on the UCLA campus on October 30th, November 2nd and November 3rd, respectively?

Only one, if his name is Martyn Jacques, and he is flanked by two fellows, one Huge and one Stout. Get your tickets today, and if you are in LA, do come over and introduce yourself to me on November 3rd, where I will be attending their UCLA Live! performance as a member of the press. I wouldn't want to miss this opportunity witness their first LA appearance, and to record it for all posterity, (or perhaps for others to read to their grandchildren).


Photo by: Andrew Attkinson

About the Writer

VeroniqueChevalier is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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