FRINGE REVIEW – The Tiger Lillies Live in Concert (Pleasance)


10 – 21 August (not 11)
2145-2245, Pleasance

Martyn Jacques of the Tiger Lillies (photo credit: FourthEye Photography)

Martyn Jacques of the Tiger Lillies (photo credit: FourthEye Photography)

If they didn’t exist, David Lynch would have to invent them…

With their songs about freaks, creeps and weirdos of all kinds, The Tiger Lillies are not a band for the easily-offended. Like malicious clowns with ill intent, they revel in taking any taboo going and twisting it until it pops, all against the soundtrack of swirling carnival music they are so adept at whipping up.

Regulars at Edinburgh, where they have played venues from the Usher Hall to the Famous Speigeltent, this year’s visit is an understated affair. The three band members stand in a line on an empty stage and – with little in the way of audience interaction – proceed to conjure up an hour of swirling melancholy and beautiful grotesquerie.

Frontman Martyn Jacques takes centre stage, his suicidal clown persona exuding a disturbing fascination. He is flanked by Adrian Stout on double bass, theremin and musical saw and Adrian Huge on percussion, who both have a deceiving air of Victorian respectability about them – until, during songs such as Banging In The Nails, their true characters emerge.

Doing away with the likes of 2008’s Seven Deadly Sins anarchic freakshow theatrics and discarding most of their extensive back catalogue, this year’s set gives the band a chance to unveil some new material, most of which is low-key and downbeat – but no less effective.

The songs on offer here dance with a dreamlike elegance to a slow, menacing tempo, Jacques’ accordion and falsetto vocals filling the venue with haunting tales of prisoners and suicides. When Stout adds theremin or musical saw to the mix, the Tiger Lillies can create music which threatens to steal away part of your soul. Just don’t think to hard about what they would do with it after the show…

The Tiger Lillies are not for everyone, and – as in previous years – there are those in the audience who simply ‘don’t get it’. However, if you are a fan or if it sounds as though their fabulous freakshow tales and macabre music-hall style appeals, then The Tiger Lillies Live in Concert is a hypnotic and unsettling hour of music from one of the country’s most unique – and most vital – live acts.

Ticket information is available on the Pleasance website.
Review by Keith D


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