The Tiger Lillies

TelstraClear Club, Christchurch

07/08/2009 - 09/08/2009

Christchurch Arts Festival 2009

Production Details

The Godfathers of the alt-cabaret movement celebrate 20 years of dark and deviant theatrics in the TelstraClear Club.

With an international reputation for being the foremost avant-garde band in the world, The Tiger Lillies never cease to surprise, shock and entertain with their inimitable musical style, conjuring up the macabre magic of pre-war Berlin and fusing it with the savage edge of punk.

For more information on The Tiger Lillies visit 

"It’s not surprising that their cult following is worldwide – a Tiger Lillies gig is a journey into wild emotion which passes right through melodrama and out the other side into bizarre beauty" – Evening Standard

Friday 7 August, 9.30pm
Saturday 8 August, 9.30pm
Sunday 9 August, 7.30pm

TelstraClear Club 

GA $40.00
Conc $35.00

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Potent art for our times

Review by Lindsay Clark 10th Aug 2009

They have been described as ‘the foremost avant-garde band in the world’ and a ‘sinister troika of tragic troubadours’, delivering music of ‘mayhem, madness and melancholy’. The Tiger Lillies certainly bring an intoxicating whiff of sulphur and  brimstone to the clubby atmosphere of  the TelstraClear pavilion. Their range is generous, covering cautionary tales, gutter ballads, messages of death and doom lined up with outrageous body farce and bravura blasphemy.

The trio emerge out of the red/blue haze with immediate eye appeal before they even start the nightmarish romp through black humour and gothic melancholy which we are lined up to experience. There is Adrian Stout, bassist extraordinaire with a saw and theromin to hand as well. In another corner a remarkable drum kit with toys, manned by affable Adrian Huge can be seen, which later calls on percussive implements such as you never dreamed of. A rubber baby? An inflatable sheep? Come on, this is music at the edge and we’re about to jump.

For there in the centre is Martyn Jaques, founder of the group and songwriter/lyricist, with the ghoulish Pierrot face paint and the voice like no other. In his clutches there is the magical green squeezebox, sometimes laid aside for guitar or piano, which will lead the way through the musical carnival and confirm for us the deservedly cult status of this inimitable band.

The songs track sad times and people, with mockery, cynicism, violence and addictive absurdity all   colouring the world they inhabit for us. Frequently the Eastern European rhythms are driven to frenzy (‘Death train coming!’) or given the fairground barker treatment. Extraordinary effects like the rubbing of Auntie Mabel’s squeaky thighs give place to the insistent doomy beat of ‘They’re building the gallows’, a countdown to hanging.

None of this accounts for the weird beauty of the whole. The remarkable falsetto and stage presence of Jaques is one thing but the plucking of that hidden string in us which resonates in dark humour is another and that is where the combined performance finds its potency as art for our times.
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