The Tiger Lillies (4 stars)

This article is from 2013

The Tiger Lillies

The 'Brechtian punk cabaret' godfathers show no signs of slowing or losing their wild creative edge

Despite the exploding popularity of cabaret at the Fringe (and beyond), this London trio remains the high watermark below which all others will inevitably sink and drown. Now in their 14th year, and widely considered as godfathers of the genre known as ‘Brechtian punk cabaret’, The Tiger Lillies show no signs of slowing or losing their wild creative edge.

The band’s sound, which draws from pre-war Berlin cabaret with French chanson, British music hall, gypsy music, sea shanties and any number of other retro styles, is still utterly unique. In addition to their eclectic, eccentric musical influences, their unusual instrumentation (accordion, ukulele, musical saw, theremin, a tiny silver bell … ) adds to the beguiling idiosyncrasy. They look as weird as they sound; three lunatics, escaped from a Victorian asylum, staring wild-eyed from grease-painted faces. And then there are the lyrics, macabre and preoccupied with murder, buggery, bestiality, prostitution and every old-fashioned vice imaginable by the most perverted of minds. The Tiger Lillies remain consummate performers, transporting us to a strange, dark but quite beautiful place.

Underbelly, Bristo Square, until 17 Aug (not 12), 10.20pm, £14–£15 (£12.50–£14). Run now ended.