The Tiger Lillies: The Last Days of Mankind at Wilton’s Music Hall
Wilton’s Music Hall, London’s oldest and arguably most charming venue of its kind, is known for presenting quirky, alternative, often magical musical shows. Currently on the 165-year-old stage is award-winning cabaret trio the Tiger Lillies presenting songs from their new album, The Last Days of Mankind. The group are renowned for their distinctive style and blunt lyrics, their music often described with words such as macabre, vaudeville, gypsy, and their act sometimes referred to as Brechtian punk cabaret, but their songs go beyond these labels.
Based on the World War I satire of the same name by Austrian writer Karl Kraus, The Last Days of Mankind is an anti-war album that doesn’t shy away from the darkest, most gruesome details associated with war and the struggles of a perishing society. Kraus’s text brings together material from various sources (such as newspaper articles, conversations and political debates that took place in coffee houses) to create a vivid picture of the horror that unfolded around him. Martyn Jacques – founder, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist singer of the band – believes that the sociopolitical self-destruction described by Kraus can easily be applied to present-day issues, especially in regards to the war in Ukraine.
The strong sense of pain and injustice at the heart of the lyrics is palpable, even though it’s veiled in dark humour. The instrumental execution is flawless and it creates an atmosphere of melancholy so imbued with emotion that it leaves audience members visibly stirred. Jaques’s accordion and characteristic falsetto voice easily draw one into the tales he narrates. Also of note are the eerie sounds of the theremin played by Adrian Stout who, like Jaques, dextrously switches between instruments, while drummer Budi Butenop performs some impressive sequences and contributes to the humorous tone with subtle comic interventions.
The Tiger Lillies’ lyrics are often considered controversial and may not be to everyone’s taste, but there is no denying the power of their music. The Last Days of Mankind is a strong addition to the band’s vast repertoire and there is probably no better way to listen to it than live at Wilton’s Music Hall.
The Tiger Lillies: The Last Days of Mankind is at Wilton’s Music Hall from 6th September until 17th September 2022. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.