The Tiger Lillies are a phenomenon that may have escaped many of you. They label themselves as a cult band mixing “pre-war Berlin cabaret and avant garde music hall in deranged anarchic gypsy style” And that my dear readers is not that far from the truth. Their new show, Corrido de la Sangre, is currently playing at Home Manchester, and is one of the highlights of the ongoing ¡Viva! Spanish & Latin American Festival.
Having had the pleasure of sitting through their wonderful new show I’d say it’s hard to describe The Tiger Lillies that would pigeonhole them into one definitive style or genre. A musical trio doesn’t seem to do them justice. They are a heady mix of intoxicating ingredients. A double helping dose of musicianship, throw in a spoonful of singing and mix it with a fascinating flavour of storytelling.
And to say their style is unique is an understatement. Macabre combination of punkish cabaret that pay homage to the old school days of vaudevillian music hall performances that are designed to enrapture audiences with tales that are full of intrigue and allure. Combining these elements lends itself to the spectacle of theatre that you just would not get on film or any other medium.
Their new show embodies this spirit wholeheartedly. Set in a small dusty town on the border of Mexico and the US, a Corrido singer and his band relay the tale of their deaths, returning each year on the Day of the Dead to torment their killer and to “tell us their dark story of intrigue, vengeance, murder and the mayhem of a romance gone bad”. It’s a stunning mixture of visuals and song.
At the forefront of this storytelling is Martyn Jacques, the band’s frontman and songwriter, who with his accordian plays the enigmatic storyteller. Jacques is adept at the art of weaving a tale through a mixture of musical numbers so that they form an entrancing thread to which the audience are drawn into. Jacques knows what buttons to press to make his brand of taletelling engaging. The singing is only part of it, the theatrics and the showmanship all play a significant part in the performance.
He is aided and abetted ably by Adrian Stout, who plays a number of bass styled instruments and Jonas Golland on drums. Mark Holthusen directs and is responsible for the video projections, which are just as integral to the performance as The Tiger Lillies wowing the audience with their musicality.
Like any good story The Tiger Lillies leave you wanting more, wondering where the time went having been so engrossed in saga of the Corrido singer, that when the end comes you’re left bereft.
Verdict: Storytelling of the highest order. A macabre mixture of music hall numbers that tells the sorry tale of a Corrido singer and his band. Visually stunning and completely and utterly vaudevillian. A must see.