When their cheeriest song is one about crucifixion, you know you’ve stumbled upon a rather odd band.
The Tiger Lillies offer a mostly downbeat mix of bad taste songs and morose music, with frontman Martyn Jacques the painted clown who left his happy face at home. He reveals the tears, jealousy, bitterness and hate behind the mask – mostly delivered in an arch camp style.
The lyrics are seedy, unpleasant, and generally base. The musicianship is exceptional.
Adrian Huge’s percussion is beautifully controlled, with delicious touches of improvisation over the framework that keeps the show on the road and Adrian Stout adds great atmosphere on double base, thermin, and, er, saw.
Both lend ironic, begrudging backing vocals to Jacques, whose accordion and piano playing slides from pin-sharp accuracy to (deliberate) lazy, substance-induced slurs.
With a near-two hour set there were bits of the show that were hard-going, but the Lillies are a unique and oddly seductive outfit – just don’t expect to be uplifted.