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TORONTO, October 17, 2006—Harbourfront Centre is pleased to present two rare and exclusive concert performances, Friday, November 3 and Saturday, November 4, by the Grammy-nominated, Oliver Award-winning musical trio, The Tiger Lillies. A group The Guardian describes as brilliantly twisted performs both nights at 8p.m. at the Harbourfront Centre Theatre located at 231 Queens Quay West. Tickets are on sale beginnig today for $25 and available through the Harbourfront Centre Box Office at 416-973-4000. For more information go to .

Defying musical category classification, The Tiger Lillies formed in England in 1989 and feature the musical genius of Martyn Jacques - Vocals, Accordion, Adrian Huge - Drums, Percussion, Toys and Adrian Stout - Contra Bass, Musical Saw, Vocals. They create their own unique, farcical and satirical brand of music for audiences appreciative of dark and somewhat perverse humour and works often associated with multi-disciplined, performing arts projects related to theatre, film and dance (past collaborations include Canada’s Holy Body Tattoo).

On a North American tour, The Tiger Lillies make three Canadian stops (Montreal, Oct. 21-22 and in St. John, New Brunswick on November 5, the day after Toronto), before heading back to Europe. They have had two cd releases this year, the most recent, Die Weberischen features the story of the Weber women, Mozart’s wife Constanze Weber, her mother, and her three sisters.

The Tiger Lillies’ most memorable Toronto performances were the sold-out shows presented in conjunction with their Shockhead Peter production that was part of Harbourfront Centre’s 2000, World Stage international theatre festival. They won two prestigious Olivier Awards in Britain for the West End production of Shockhead Peter. Their U.S. Grammy nomination was for Best Classical Crossover Album, The Gorey End.

Their pioneering approach to the currently burgeoning genre of postmodern cabaret combines a Brel-esque fondness for the demi-monde's dark side, with the incongruous (yet hilarious) chirpiness of old-fashioned English music hall, all underpinned by sharp, expert musicianship. – Sue Wilson, The Scotsman, Edinburgh

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Media Contact: Bill Bobek
Harbourfront Centre

Tiger Lillies Biographies and additional information

Martyn Jacques - Vocals, Accordion.

Martyn Jacques, the founder of The Tiger Lillies, spent much of his early years living above a brothel in London's Soho. His songs describe (in lurid detail) pimps, prostitutes, drug addicts, losers and other unsavoury characters. He wrote the music for Shockheaded Peter and won an Olivier Award for Best Supporting Performance in a Musical for his memorable role in the work. He is currently working on several theatrical projects.

Adrian Huge - Drums, Percussion, Toys.

"James Joyce on drums" exclaimed David Byrne on seeing Adrian Huge at work with the Tiger Lillies. Adrian has worked in butchers, pie shops, banks, motorcycle shops, and as a ham-fisted-but-cheap car mechanic before co-founding, in 1982, Dover's only surreal, theatrical jazz/punk/calypso comedy ensemble : Uncle Lumpy and the Fish Doctors. The group floundered shortly after arriving in London in 1989 which coincided with the formation of The Tiger Lillies and the start of his bashing ever smaller, re-cycled drums, toys and kitchen-ware. The man that once turned up to gig in the Czech Republic expecting to find a drum kit waiting for him only to discover a pile of freshly polished kitchen utensils instead. This did not deter him for a second as he went on to deliver an amazing performance that night armed only with pots, pans and spatulas. With his usual drum kit looking like a cross between a modern sculpture and a childrens toy shop its all in a days work for Adrian.

Adrian Stout - Contra Bass, Musical Saw, Vocals.
Adrian Stout had played Blues, Jazz, Country, and other primitive musical forms in various known and lesser known bands throughout the UK, Europe and as far afield as India, and recorded two albums for Blues diva Dana Gillespie before being co-opted by The Tiger Lillies for 1995's Edinburgh Festival. This once serious musician has since then found himself dancing in leider hosen, making love to inflatable sheep and dressing as a cheap prostitute. He designed and maintains both the Tiger Lillies and Shockheaded Peter websites. He is currently working on a musical project with Sexton Ming.

The Tiger Lillies history

The Tiger Lillies band history and film/theatre/dance credits

Grammy Nomination The Gorey End Best Classical Crossover Album

Olivier Award 2002 winners

Shockheaded Peter - Winner Best Entertainment

Shockheaded Peter - Winner Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical (Martyn Jacques)

Independent on Sunday article from 14/05/206 which has pretty clear history of the band and its major themes.

"Bigger, prouder and fleshily engorged with the pustule throb of the garishly gaudy and gloriously obscene." - Ross Fortune, Time Out

"Brilliantly twisted" - The Guardian

"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

The Tiger Lillies defy any singular description and operate within their own eccentric definitions. Formed in 1989, they tour the world both with the Shockheaded Peter production and by themselves, developing a dedicated following from New York and San Francisco in the US to St Petersburg in Russia. Their songs (once described as 'Surrealist Pornography') are captured on numerous self-released albums including Brothel to the Cemetery, Farmyard Filth, Ad Nauseam, Shockheaded Peter and Circus Songs.

The Tiger Lillies: Funny. Peculiar.

15/05/2006, source: TL

The success of the musical 'Shockheaded Peter' in the West End did bring them some celebrity, but, for most, the imaginative world of the is too dark and perverse a place to visit very often. Lewis Jones meets the criminal castrato, Martyn Jacques, and his partners in crime

Published: 14 May 2006

'We're a famous people's band," says Martyn Jacques, the founder, writer and frontman of the Tiger Lillies, in the dressing room of the Komedia, a cabaret bar in Brighton. "We're not famous, but famous artists are fans of ours, people like Mel Brooks, Barry Humphries... what's the guy from The Simpsons?" Adrian Stout, the bass player, who despite his name is rather thin, supplies the name of Matt Groening.

"Matt Groening," continues Jacques. "Terry Gilliam. All these weird radical people. Marilyn Manson. It's very gratifying. We might not be famous, but we've got famous fans. Ha ha! Through a mixture of chance, luck and design, we've managed to stumble on to a vein almost of our own."

One might take issue with that "almost", for no one else does what the Tiger Lillies do. Jacques calls their performance "Brechtian punk cabaret", which is fair enough, but any number of acts on the Edinburgh fringe would probably describe themselves in those terms, and the Tigers are unique. In greasepaint and eccentric evening dress, accompanied by Stout on double bass and saw, by Adrian Huge (who is on the large side) on various percussion instruments, and by himself on accordion and keyboards, Jacques croons, warbles and shrieks his way through a repertoire of remarkable perversity, encompassing every conceivable neurosis and vice, and some that are almost beyond conception. (If you don't know their albums, there's a fair chance you saw them a few years ago providing grotesque musical accompaniment to dramatisation of the uncanny, cautionary tales of Heinrick Hoffman in the West End show Shockheaded Peter.)

Their album Farmyard Filth (1997) for example, is billed as "possibly the most extensive collection of songs dealing with zoophilia in recorded history". To tunes that owe much to music hall, by turns jaunty, rousing and wistful, the Tigers sing, among other things, of blasphemy, rape and matricide, and currently tackle all three of those subjects in the same song. After a recent performance in Hamburg, Jacques was approached by a German psychiatrist who said, "It's amazing how you manage to get absolutely everything in."

"We tend to do a lot of touring," Jacques explains, "because the kind of music we make doesn't really sell that many records. We've made a lot" - 16, so far, all for the Misery Guts label - "but we don't sell many, do we?" The other Tigers nod their agreement. "We're a marketing man's nightmare," says Stout cheerfully, and they all cackle.

Jacques sings in a falsetto of remarkable purity and range, almost like a classical castrato. "I'm a counter-tenor," he says. "I lived in Soho, and I didn't really work much through my twenties, but I used to go to the City Lit, and in the old days you could go there and do as many courses as you wanted, if you were unemployed, for something like 70p a year. So I used to do classical singing classes and jazz singing, that's the limits of my study.

"I was singing all different styles - Louis Armstrong, Lou Reed, and like a tenor - not particularly well, probably, but anyway I was practising. And when I was about 30 I got an accordion, and I thought, 'I know what I'll do, I'll play the accordion and sing in a high voice, and that'll be very original, and I'll make millions.' That's what I thought, and I was wrong. Ha! Here we are, 17 years later, in the Komedia, playing to 160 people. There you go, that's life. But anyway, we make a living."

Jacques grew up in Slough, and in one of his songs he concurs with John Betjeman's opinion of the place: "Well it's grim up north / But it's grimmer than that in Slough / I'll sing you a song / If you drop a bomb on Slough."

He left to read theology and philosophy at Lampeter but, though he has retained his interest in those subjects, he dropped out after a year to live in a squat in Finsbury Park, an unlovely suburb of London. "Next door to me was a very attractive young woman," he recalls, "who worked in the peep shows in Soho - probably why I ended up there. She was a speed freak but she was very artistic, and when I got an old Dansette record player she gave me The Threepenny Opera by Brecht and Weil, Small Change by Tom Waits and a record by the Birthday Party, which was Nick Cave's band - another interesting artist. I particularly loved The Threepenny Opera, with Lotte Lenya singing in German. I loved the instrumentation, and the pump organs, and that was probably my biggest musical inspiration."

In 2001, the Tigers released the album 2 Penny Opera ("It's one cheaper"), featuring such songs as "Bitch", "Bastard" and "Piss on your grave".

The biggest inspiration in terms of subject matter is Jacques' sojourn in Soho, where he lived above a clip joint or semi-brothel. "I had a market stall for a while, selling marijuana-smoking paraphernalia - chillums and pipes - with two other strange men. One of them was an old jailbird and druggie, and the other used to have birds singing on a ghetto blaster.

"This market stall was beautiful, covered in flowers, like an altar, with birds whistling, like a little jewel in the middle of Rupert Street, and the other stallholders were freaked out. But we did all right, for a while. I could see my stall from my window, and my girlfriend used to work in one of the clip joints.

"There were also heroin dealers living downstairs. One day, I heard this blood-curdling scream in the street, and this scream started coming up the stairs, and went into the room underneath me. I went down and the dealer had his face cut from cheek to cheek. Obviously a Triad, heroin thing. So it wasn't necessarily great, but from a song-writing point of view it was good material.

"I knew all the junkies and prostitutes, and I'd be hanging out in illegal drinking dens until four in the morning with all these weird people. It was a good life, and very inspiring for me, because later, when I formed the Tiger Lillies, I used a lot of this stuff. I always think of Toulouse-Lautrec, hanging round in brothels. I think for an artist it's good experience."

How did the band start? "I got the accordion, started singing in a high voice, put an advert in the Melody Maker, and somebody answered who was a friend of Adrian's [Huge, whose real name is Hughes], and he said he had a friend who played with brushes, so he got the job. The bass player couldn't play in tune, so I had to sack him half way through our first recording session. I got another friend to play bass for about six years, and then he married and went to live in a forest, so then Adrian [Stout] came, and has been in the band for 10 years."

Where did the name come from? "There was a prostitute called Tiger Lily, who wore lots of tiger skin, so it's sleazy. And there's the flower. And it's a play with the beautiful and the strong. And the lily is death, as well, and we sing about death a lot. It's hard music, I suppose, heavy and dark."

It is. Sometimes funny, and sometimes tender, it is consistently raw and often disturbing. The lyrics are inevitably flat without the music, but to give a flavour, here is the opening of "Smell": "I saw the piss running down your leg / I knew that you were not well / I saw the vomit come out of your mouth / And I knew that you were in hell/ And I love you though you smell."

"People can get upset," says Stout. "It tends to hit them in unusual ways sometimes. It's quite emotional. It's designed to create tension and confusion. It's not an easy evening or easy music. We challenge and disorientate the audience, we don't expect them to be wholly happy. We have to maintain the tension. The whole thing is about ambiguity."

"We had people in Germany the other day," observes Huge, in his only contribution to the conversation, "saying they thought we were all women."

"We did a show in Belfast," says Stout, "and there was a small accident. A trapdoor was left open on the stage and Martyn fell through it. Someone came up to me after the show and asked [in an Irish accent]: 'Was that woman all right? Was she hurt at all?' There's a confusion sometimes, which is not a bad thing."

"Compared to the Old Masters in the National Gallery," says Jacques, "I'm a complete pussy. The blood, the rape and so on, all that cruelty and inhumanity. And it's going on now, as we speak, in Iraq. If I manage to shock, then I'm succeeding in my aim."

The Tiger Lilies will next play at the Soho Theatre, 21 Dean Street, London W1, 18 May to 3 June (0870 429 6883). For more information go to

The Little Matchgirl

Based upon Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, The Little Matchgirl was recorded in Vienna in February 2006 and features the Tiger Lillies and a string trio.

CD of Die Weberischen

A new Tiger Lillies show. The story is that of the WEBERISCHEN – the Weber women, Mozart´s wife Constanze Weber, her mother, and her three sisters. Five strong women meet musically with the Tiger Lillies and the 22-piece orchestra of the VEREINIGTE BÜHNEN WIEN.

Variety review of Die Weberischen

11/10/2006, source: TL

As Mozart's 250th-birthday celebrations drone on, levity has been distinctly absent. Enter British post-punk band the Tiger Lillies to change all that. "The Weber Women" is a gloriously nasty piece of work that sardonically explores Mozart's fascination with the daughters of Cilly Weber.
Martyn Jacques, the creepy falsetto who fronts the band, created the music and serves as an omnipresent commentator.

Cilly's style of parenting makes Joan Crawford look like Mary Poppins: "Six sons dead, four sluts to feed, sell those bitches for my needs -- life's a bitch" sums up her fate of raising daughters who all aspire to be opera singers.

And sell she does: The marriage contract between dizzy Sofie and a low-ranking government official specifies a tidy annual income for Cilly. Whenever told, "Mama, I met a man," the immediate response is, "How much does he earn?"

Aloisia, the diva of the brood, makes the best deal by marrying a prominent musician and becoming prima donna of the Vienna Opera, providing an excuse for Cilly to move the family to Austria.

In another business deal, Cilly sublets a room to Mozart, and pragmatic Konstanze decides he will make an adequate husband. Cilly gives her blessing after being told that Mozart's father, Leopold, has just died, thus increasing her potential son-in-law's net worth. (Intercepting letters from Leopold, Cilly reads, "Those Weber women will be your downfall.")

Eventually, even the decidedly unglamorous Josefa (chain-smoking and always furiously whipping something in a bowl) scores a husband and a huge success when she creates the role of the Queen of the Night in "The Magic Flute."

Mozart's death (he is seen only as a corpse carried on by the women) seems to awaken Cilly's parsimony in the widowed Konstanze: She sees a future for herself only upon discovering the potential income from her husband's unpublished compositions.

"What does it all mean? Nothing," sings Jacques to the corpse, an opinion contradicted as the set rises to reveal the orchestra where a lone musician plays the haunting adagio of Mozart's clarinet concerto.

Felix Mitterer's episodic book is so unrelenting in its black humor that when, late in the show, Aloisia congratulates Josefa on her success, it's jolting to actually hear words of kindness and sincerity.

Jacques' 14 songs alternate between the Tiger Lillies' trademark blasphemous reinterpretations of old English ballads (one is called "Screw You") and numbers inspired by Mozart: "Fame" ingeniously takes the chord sequence from a "Magic Flute" aria and makes a whole new song from it, while "The Merry Birdcatcher" utilizes the text of another aria from the same opera but sets it to quite a different tune.

Abetted by Alfred Mayerhofer's thrift-shop costumes and Miriam Busch's rundown hotel lobby set (the carpet is so ugly it's magnificent), director Stephanie Mohr goes for broad laughs, whether it be Konstanze literally squeezing out a baby or the family engaged in a Three Stooges assembly line of facial slaps.

Eva Maria Marold, Anne Weber, Tanja Schleiff and Ruth Brauer all do superb jobs of establishing the sisters' diverse personalities, but it's the scenery-chewing Cilly of Robert Meyer that brings down the house. Never grotesque, he even manages to find something vulnerable in an extraordinarily unlikable character. When Cilly leads her girls through a five-part Mozart canon, it's an unexpected moment of pure magic.

Sets, Miriam Busch; costumes, Alfred Mayerhofer; lighting, Nicole Berry; sound, Martin Mayer and Claus Buhler. Opened Aug. 28, 2006. Reviewed Sept. 9. Running time: 2 HOURS, 30 MIN.

With: The Tiger Lillies (Martyn Jacques, vocals and accordion; Adrian Huge, percussion; Adrian Stout, contrabass).
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