"The characters who populate the songs by this English cabaret three-piece are worse than down on their luck."
The Tiger Lillies aren't to everyone's taste. The characters who populate the songs by this English cabaret three-piece are worse than down on their luck. They are stuck on the very bottom rungs of society. Like a Brechtian nightmare from an earlier time, the Lillies, dressed in suits and hats with garish white makeup seem an odd choice for the 5.45pm slot in The Famous Spiegeltent. With church bells peeling in the distance, the band runs through a greatest hits set that takes a while to warm the early evening crowd up. With a few more pre-show drinks under their belts, it feels like the audience would've been more inclined to give in to The Tiger Lillies' dark allure a little earlier.
Singing songs about circus show freaks, perverts, murderers and poor Harriet — a young lass with a penchant for burning things who ends up a smouldering pile of ashes — is par for the course with this group, but it's the moments of quiet reflection, such as Eternity and Yellow Angel that offer something more. There's a magic to these sorrowful ballads, honed over almost 30 years of playing. Frontman Martyn Jacques wields his falsetto voice and emerald accordion with a comfortable ease while upright bass player Adrian Stout surprises the audience with the haunting air he coaxes out of a musical saw. It's a grim world view for sure, but this trio knows how to add enough enticing mystery.