The Tiger Lillies (1 star)

This article is from 2010.

The Tiger Lillies

Sideshow inspired death-gypsy tunes

The Tiger Lillies are probably one of only a few proponents of the ‘Death Oompah’ genre. Frontman Martyn Jacques comes to the stage adorned with thick harlequin war paint and armed with songs of murderous circus freaks and decrepit prostitutes, sung in either an operatic falsetto or a grisly growl. He’s accompanied by a variety of unconventional instruments: the theremin and musical saw both make appearances, as do the accordion and ukulele.

The band have previously been involved in the writing and staging of operas, which could be considered a fitting medium for the material. They are deprived of such context in a bare-bones live show, though, and the songs come across as repetitive and unfunny, with themes generally restricted to anal sex and drunkenness. It’s the sort of stuff dreamt up by bored 15-year-old boys with an over-fondness for The League of Gentlemen. The instrument and make-up gimmicks soon wear thin under such material, and while Jacques proudly boasts that his songs may be offensive, this tends to be an issue with quality rather than content.

Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until Sat 21 Aug, 9.45pm, £14–£15 (£12.50–£14).

The Tiger Lillies - Live in Concert

  • 1 star

'Dark gypsy cabaret shimmering with menace. Extraordinary atmosphere, gorgeously beautiful although always followed by some outrageously funny or horrible twist. I urge you to seek out a ticket for this glorious show' (Scotsman); 'The execution is impeccable throughout. Phenomenal' (Guardian); 'This sinful show leaves you…


1. Bumtrinket9 Aug 2010, 12:20pm5 stars The Tiger Lillies Report

I first saw the Tiger Lillies at the Fringe around six years ago and have always made sure not to miss them when they are in Edinburgh. I was at this show two days ago and there wasn't a single song about anal sex! This reviewer seems totally unaware of the fact they have been touring the world for over 20 years and have a rich history (Olivier awards and Grammy nominations included). Ok so the subject matter of the songs can be controversial but thank goodness for that! They are also full of beauty and dark humour. Look at the flyer for the show and you will see all the reviews last year were 4 and 5 star, the last time the List reviewed them they got 4 stars so it seems this reviewer just didn't get it at all! And it's a crime for the band's incredible musicianship not to be mentioned. Go see this show and make up your own mind if you can get a ticket - I just tried and they're sold-out tonight!

2. EdinburghMartin9 Aug 2010, 2:34pm5 stars The Tiger Lillies Report

Surprised by this review, as I found the Tiger Lillies to be amazing at Pleasance 2 this year.

Not all the songs are supposed to be humorous, and I was quite surprised at how emotional and beautiful many of their melodies were, with intriguing and poignant lyrics.

I can understand that they're not to everyone's taste, but I found them to be a real delight!

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