To the wonderfully atmospheric arts centre for the incredibly decadent Tiger Lillies.
I’ve been drawn to the Lillies for a number of years – its something about their innate theatricality, their nods to the work of Weill and that wonderful sense of grotesque cabaret. I first saw them at Aurora St Stephens in Edinburgh – and was almost beside myself with laughter especially at their closer – the wonderful ‘Banging in the Nails’.
A year later they were taking the world by storm in Shockheaded Peter – surely a perfect vehicle for them and a quite extraordinary theatrical experience. By that time I was desperate to book them (I was then at Leicester Phoenix) but they could demand a fee which was both way beyond my means – and my audience expectations.
A couple of years ago I saw them again in a new collection of songs at the Soho Theatre. Yes I enjoyed myself but I remember feeling deeply uncomfortable and compromised by several of the songs which unsympathetically dealt with dying by cancer. That freedom of speech – the naughtiness I so loved when I first saw them – was beginning to nag at my older self.
And so to Colchester for a set which liberally mixed new material with older songs. Yet again I enjoyed myself, and yes I found myself singing along but at the same time I was curiously bored – or at least not blown away. Maybe its the over familiarity with the material, maybe the older me finds the supposedly shocking material trite and a little silly (shit tourist for example) and maybe – just maybe – there is something of the One Trick Pony about them. And on the fourth time of viewing the gag was wearing thin?