It's the cheapest show you've ever seen
with drunks drug addicts & old queens
its garish gaudy & obscene.
The Tiger Lillies are a trio of musicians from London. I hesitate in calling them a band, since that word conjures up images of guitars and electronic equipment (at least in my head it does), while the Tiger Lillies use an accordion, a portable upright bass and a drum set composed of pots, pans, recycled drums and toys. They formed in 1989 and since then they have spent much of their time living as itinerant musicians touring Europe.
The Tiger Lillies were founded by Martyn Jacques (vocals, accordion). Jacques spent much of his early years living above a brothel in London's Soho. As far as I can tell from many sources on the internet, he schooled himself as an opera singer, resulting in an castrati-style voice. He composes all songs for the Tiger Lillies, in which he describes pimps, prostitutes, killers, losers and other unsavoury characters.
Drummer Adrian Huge has been called "James Joyce on drums" by David Byrne. He had many jobs before starting a career as a drummer. He was co-founder of Dover's only surreal, theatrical jazz/punk/calypso comedy ensemble : Uncle Lumpy and the Fish Doctors. This group floundered in 1989, at which time Adrian joined the Tiger Lillies. His drum kit looks like a cross between a modern sculpture and a childrens toy shop , and I've seen him using fireworks to play it... a_scar_faery tells me he also has a habit of playing his drums with spat M&M's.
Unlike the others, Adrian Stout was a serious musician before he joined the Tiger Lillies. He played blues, jazz and country, and even recorded two albums for Dana Gillespie before joining The Tiger Lillies for 1995's Edinburgh Festival. Since then he's been found on stage dressed in lederhosen and dressed as a woman, but apparently it's worth it. For the Tiger Lillies, Stout plays upright bass and musical saw.
The music made by the Lillies is hard to describe, it's a mixture between English music hall, opera and gypsy song, combined with pre-war Berlin cabaret and some Monty Python thrown in. If you can't picture anything from that description, I don't blame you, you should just go and listen... The Tiger Lillies have made 16 albums so far, all of which are available through their website.
I've only seen one show by the Tiger Lillies, but it was highly enjoyable. For the "Tiger Lillies Circus" tour they had added to the band several circus artists: acrobats, dancers and a contortionist. The combination of these acts and the vaudeville-style of music worked really well. If you're easily shocked, the Lillies' choice of subject matter and manner of portraying it might not be for you, but to those who are not too queasy I highly recommend them.