The Tiger Lillies – Live in Concert

How does one describe the group called The Tiger Lillies? A difficult one to answer! The three performers who form this group combine punk and cabaret, satire and music. There is something to offend everyone.

The Spiegeltent, more often seen in Edinburgh, is a delight to be in. It gives the sense of being in a circus big top, but on a small scale. On the night I went, it was full and the audience were a very mixed bunch – all ages, both sexes. Only over sixteen year olds are allowed in. The three men who make up the group play a variety of instruments and the ‘lead singer’ very definitely plays to the crowd. They look like a nightmare version of clowns – most suitable for the tent – and bring with them a core of people who obviously know their oeuvre well (as noticed from the requests shouted at them from the crowd). I was told by one of my children (now well over sixteen) that they have been doing the pub circuit for at least 20 years, and the blurb tells me that they have been nominated for a Grammy. The Guardian critic described them as both ‘phenomenal’ and their lead singer, Martyn Jacques, as ‘a melancholic amalgam of Joel Grey in Cabaret and Meat Loaf!’

Think of a topic: drugs, sex, violence, religion, The Tiger Lillies will have a song to cover it. The performances, including those of the two other musicians, were professional and evidently well practised, although on the night I went, my friends (who had seen them before) felt that Jacques was perhaps not on top form. They left their audience asking for more.

Had I a criticism, it would be that I felt that they were trying almost too hard to shock – they might be described as the shock jocks of cabaret. That being said, I might go to see them again – and not just because one of their better known songs is called Maria!


Maria Way

London Wonderground Festival, SouthBank, 7th May – 28th September 2014