The Tiger Lillies – The Ballad of Sexual Dependency

The Tiger Lillies - The Ballad of Sexual Dependency at the Sherman Theatre

Cardiff’s Festival of Voice is ticking the boxes of new experiences. On Friday evening I headed to the Sherman Theatre to experience The Tiger Lillies, the cult collusion of punk and cabaret. I really should have read up a little more, maybe considered what this Brechtian inspired trio would create in a title of The Ballad of Sexual Dependency.

As it was, I had no knowledge of Nan Goldin, and her Brechtian titled slide show exhibition. I have since come to learn that this collaboration between Nan Goldin and The Tiger Lillies is to enable an original score to accompany her exhibition.

So on Friday evening, I experienced a 45-minute slide show of images taken between 1979 and 1986 by the photographer as an autobiographical account of New York. Taken in Goldin’s own life, the collection appeared as chapters of life, taking the parties, love, sex and drugs. This is far from commercial work, it is real, grainy, harsh, emotive and numb. And yes, uncomfortable.

Underpinned by The Tiger Lillies lyrics and music inspired by this slide show, this was an entire experience. In this experience it was challenging not to reflect on everything. Reflecting from position of where life has been and what we want, and yes, what we desire. For me, there was much discomfort. I felt the intrusion of a camera where life is taken over by addiction- of consent. Underpinned by Martyn Jacques’ lyrics reiterating “Death to you and death to me” there was a feeling for all that life could .

There was of course something which wanted me to stay for the second half of the performance. That in this confusion of bleak and of real, there was something which enabled The Tiger Lillies to take this choice- to play with this darkness and conflict on stage. It transpired to be a good decision.Festival of Voice - The Tiger Lillies - The Ballad of Sexual DependencyThe second 45 minutes saw this trio bring their personality to the full. With a broad repertoire, Martyn Jacques embraces the piano, accordion, homemade ukulele with an immense vocal. Adrian Stout on double bass creates is a joy, with irony. I was absorbed in his mastery of the Theremin. So much talent in these hands, completely complemented by Jonas Golland on drums- the man with a convincing ‘meow’.

And in the applause came the reality of the hardcore following for The Tiger Lillies. Whilst the request for a repeat lobotomy was declined, fortunately resorting to Gin was welcomed.

I am firmly in the camp that if you get the chance to see The Tiger Lillies, you definitely should. And as a reflector, if I get the chance to see them again, I definitely will.

The Festival of Voice takes place from 7th-17th June across Cardiff. Check out the website for more information.

Live photography credit: 4Pi Productions

Disclosure: I was invited to the performance for the purpose of this review. All words and opinions contained are my own.

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