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The Tiger Lillies at the Stade (photo: Paul Way-Rider).

Accordion heaven

For lovers of the accordion this was indeed a weekend to be remembered with not one, but two outstanding performances. On Friday night we were treated to the dry wit, political satire and Jewish Klezmer punk of Canadian Geoff Berner and his stripped down band of violin and paired down drum kit. On Saturday we had the Tiger Lillies, playing dark songs with disturbing lyrics at the Stade. HOT’s John Knowles was there.

In truth I am not sure that regular attenders of the Stade Saturdays knew what they were in for, since the Council’s publicity arm had done a mask job by suggesting a series of sea shanties would be on the menu and whilst the set did include two songs about the sea, I doubt if either would appear on any ‘let’s visit Hastings’ promo! Though, with songs like Living Hell, Despair and one song in particular all about sailors (whoring, thieving and lying), someone did suggest that they should be taken up as THE Hastings Band.

Martyn Jacques (photo:Paul Way-Rider).

With his trade-mark clown’s make-up and leer, Martyn Jacques (lead singer and accordionist) dominates proceedings. The subtle playing of long-term Tiger Lily Adrian Stout on double bass and the eerily beautiful sound of the theremin act as a counterpoint to the more theatrical Jacques. In all, this was an accomplished and powerful show of strength in what is an unnatural setting for the Tiger Lillies, who, like vampires, are best seen late at night and in artificial light.

The only downside was the sound, which at times was painful in the top region and lacked balance. Twice the band stopped play to vocally make it clear that things were not right. “There’s no f*****g accordion coming through,” as Martyn succinctly put it. Something for Stade Saturdays to think on is the quality of sound, since this is the third event I have attended where either you couldn’t hear anything unless you were in the front row, or the balance was wrong. Playing in what is essentially a wind tunnel is not easy and for future years it needs some thought.

Amongst the usual ‘arty’ crowd that attends Tiger Lillies events, it was a strange sight to see two street-drinkers cavort to the strains of Down And Out – in some respects it was a fitting moment for the Tiger Lillies, who hold up a light to all that is unseen, overlooked and unloved in our society. The Tiger Lillies ended their set, as per usual, with a request section which inevitably included their blasphemous hit Banging in The Nails (even Martyn admits in the song that he will be going to hell for it!) and for anti-establishment Hastings this was a song to dance to, as many did.

I suspect there will be some disquiet in Council circles that no warning was given to parents of the content of the show, but I for one am grateful that this seedy, mesmerising and melodic anthem to the dark side somehow crept under the radar of censorship.

For a taste of what you missed with the Tiger Lillies check out The Bully Boys.

For a taster of Geoff Berner: When DD Gets Her Donkey.

 

Posted 11:35 Monday, Jul 8, 2013 In: Music & Sound

1 Comment


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  1. John Knowles

    It has been pointed out to me that the council did release a press release which clearly said that the event was for 16+, I was referring to the early publicity in the handbook of events at the Stade.

    Comment by John Knowles — Monday, Jul 8, 2013 @ 17:18

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