This year, Jonathan Mills, director of the Edinburgh International Festival, invited the Tiger Lillies to reinterpret Monteverdi's Madrigals of Love and War for his prestigious, mostly classical musical program. Of course, Martyn Jacques, the brazenly talented leader of the Tiger Lillies, accepted without having even the foggiest familiarity with Monteverdi. The result was a very loose interpretation of the composer's classical invective, coupling the otherworldly strains of a harpsichord with Jacques' even more unearthly falsetto. One piece begins ever so gleefully: "I'll kill you on a Wednesday/Cut off your head/Put your head upon a pole/Celebrate your death." The bluehairs at Edinburgh loved it. No big surprise. Despite the British trio's voluble affection for lyrics about piss, perversion, maniacs, whores, and mutilation, the Tiger Lillies have been welcomed by the well-heeled and high-cultured. Within theater circles, their adaptation of the demented 19th-century German tale Shockheaded Peter has continued to amass awards and sell out reputable playhouses nine years after its debut. Undaunted and undiluted by conventional triumphs, the Tiger Lillies still serve up the distorted concoction of music and theater Jacques described as "Brechtian punk cabaret" nearly 20 years ago. Their recent release, Urine Palace, features such enduring song titles as "Kick a Baby" and "Gonorrhoea," but it is, like the band, genuinely strange, beautiful, and enlivening a hopeful assurance to everyone who has grown wary and weary of the striped-armwarmer set.
Tue., Oct. 30, 7:30 p.m., 2007