Raucous British band The Tiger Lillies take the stage at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts


Image: Tiger LilliesThe Tiger Lillies, an irreverent British band whose music defies convention, if not description, will perform its only Connecticut show this year on Wednesday, Nov. 3, at 8 p.m. at Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts.

Based in London, the 15-year-old band combines social commentary on the darker side of life with outrageous humor, borrowing liberally from such diverse sources as opera, cabaret, gypsy music and the spirits of Edward Gorey and Bertolt Brecht. Known for wild stage antics and costumes, the band has steadily developed a cult following in England, Germany and the United States, but band members freely admit they're an acquired taste.

"We try to be challenging," says Martyn Jacques, the band's frontman/accordionist/agent provocateur. "I sing about the dark, unpleasant aspects of the human psyche. I sing honestly about the human condition. I have no barriers when writing songs."

And write he does. Jacques and his fellow band members - Adrian Huge, who plays drums, percussion, toys and kitchen utensils, and Adrian Stout, who sings and plays contra bass and musical saw - have released several albums, including the Grammy-nominated "The Gorey End," a collaboration with the Kronos Quartet. They're best known for their music and performances in "Shockheaded Peter," a raucous "junk opera" that won a 2002 Olivier Award for Best Entertainment in London. Jacques, whose vocal intonations range from sneering growls to passionate operatic castrati, won Best Supporting Performance in a Musical for the show.

"Shockheaded Peter" is based on the cautionary tales told to willful Victorian children - and the grim results that occur when they don't take heed - but it also comments on the cruelty of a society that would spawn such frightening imagery in the name of good parenting. Populated with thumbsuckers who wake to find their digits severed and toddling pyromaniacs who go up in flames, the musical's darkly comic world played to favorable reviews both in London and abroad.

"As spoof theater goes, 'Shockheaded Peter' is in its own highly sophisticated league," wrote Ben Brantley of the New York Times. "This visual treat of a show is masterly in enjoying its poisoned cake and debunking it, too."

In recent years, The Tiger Lillies have continued to confront societal mores with their unique brand of often shocking, in-your-face commentary and song. Jacques says he enjoys showing his audiences the dark underbelly of life they might not see, but is still real.

"I want to disturb and intimidate the audience. I'm a monster on-stage," he told a reporter. "But I also want the audience to be intelligent enough to understand that when I'm on stage, it's just a persona. It's not who I really am."

Tickets are $20. For tickets, call the Quick Center box office at (203) 254-4010 or toll free at 1-877-ARTS-396. For more information, visit www.quickcenter.com

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on October 1, 2004

Vol. 37, No. 56