|The Tiger Lillies — Lulu — A Murder Ballad (2014)|
The Tiger Lillies — Lulu — A Murder Ballad
♦♦ „In many ways, we inhabit a cult world,”' Jacques says. „We have fans all over the world, but we've kept away from the mainstream. The type of people who are going to get offended by our material probably won't come to our shows.”
♦♦ ‘Vilely beautiful, chillingly mesmerising’. — *****, The Independent
♦♦ Garish London art–rockers who combine opera, cabaret, and performance art with irreverent lyrics.
♦♦ The production is slick with excellent lighting and sound as well as the projections, but, as always with the Tiger Lillies, it certainly isn't for everyone, particularly if you are easily offended or looking for a traditional theatrical narrative.
Location: London, England
Album release: January 28, 2014
Record Label: Misery Guts Music
01 Daughter 2:57
02 Bird in a Cage 5:37
03 Gates of Hell 3:10
04 Violin 3:45
05 Dr Goll 2:36
06 Mirror 4:33
07 Suicide 2:21
08 Court Jester 7:14
09 Shunning 3:50
10 Daddy 4:22
11 Clown 4:23
12 Poor Lulu 3:38
13 Pimp’s the Name 4:38
14 Flowers 3:59
15 Albion 1:54
16 Hey Jack 6:19
17 Jack 5:12
18 My Heart Belongs to Daddy 2:49
♦♦ Martyn Jaques: Lead Vocals Piano and accordion
♦♦ Adrian Stout: Double Bass , Musical Saw
♦♦ Mike Pickering: Drums, Percussion
♦♦ David Coulter: mandolin, tenor banjo, electric tenor guitar, baritone ukulele, electric octave violin, saw, jaw harps, percussion.
♦♦ Recorded and Mastered at Rooster Studios, London by Nick Sykes.
♦♦ Produced by the Tiger Lillies
♦♦ All songs written by Martyn Jaques © and publishing Misery Guts Music Ltd 2013
♦♦ The Tiger Lillies LULU — A Murder Ballad
♦♦ Directed and designed by Mark Holthusen
♦♦ Written by Martin Jacques
♦♦ Performed by The Tiger Lillies and Laura Caldow
♦♦ Based on the plays by Frank Wedekind, Earth Spirit (1895) and Pandora’s Box (1904)
♦♦ Commissioned by Opera North Projects
♦♦ ¦ The songs of Lulu — A Murder Ballad come from the verses written by Frank Wedekind.
♦♦ It is not a happy or a nice story. Lulu is abused by all her lovers: Shunning, Goll, Schwartz, Alva; and Shig encourages this abuse. Her final lover, Jack, ends her short life, liberating her from the squalid hypocrisy of all of them.
♦♦ Frank Wedekind, the writer of the original Lulu, was born in Hanover in 1864. His first play, Spring Awakening, was banned in Germany for its graphic portrayal of abortion, homosexuality, child abuse and suicide. His bohemian lifestyle and political activism on the Left brought him into contact with many of the leading artistic and philosophical figures of his time.
♦♦ He wrote the first Lulu play, Earth Spirit, in 1898 and the second, Pandora’s Box, in 1905. In an early staging of Pandora’s Box Lulu was played by the young Austrian actress Tilly Newes, with Wedekind himself as Jack. He once said that Lulu was created ‘to stir up great disaster’.
♦♦ „It was hard writing the songs for Lulu. You’re drawn into a very dark place;
all the characters around Lulu are grotesque. Shunning is the ‘respectable’ child abuser. Goll is the dirty old man. Schwartz is the gullible artist who has no understanding of her abuse. Alva is the weak, hopeless lover. Jack is the psychopath who horrifically ends her life. Shig is her ‘father’, her family. He could save her but instead sells her to anyone who will pay.
So you have to breathe this putrid air. All I can say is I have profound sympathy for the one person who has no choice: Lulu.” — Martyn Jacques
My name’s Shig, pass for her papa
Make some money if I can
Daughter, daughter, daughter dear
Sell your body that is clear
Only asset that I own
Legs, breasts must now be shown
When the men with money come
With them all you must have fun
With each one you must act dumb
Say they’re the one
When she was 6 or 7
A gent called Shunning and no fool
Washed her, dressed her, groomed her, bought her,
Placed her in a classy school
Daughter, daughter, daughter please
They all think guilty
Bourgeois cunts they think they see
But you and I know poverty
So when the men with nice suits
Tell you that you’re cute
You lick your lips, give them a pout
Open your legs, shake it about
Course I kept an interest in her
It was me who made the sale
And she still calls me papa
Make more money cannot fail
You really are daddy’s best
Daughter, daughter, pass the test
For us this life is piss and shit
Show your legs and show your tits
Show us yer tits etc
© 2010 Tiger Lillies / Misery Guts Music.
Press: Hara Hristopoulou — firstname.lastname@example.org
Agent: Tim Whitehead — email@example.com
Brace yourself. Here come The Tiger Lillies, writes Philip O'Brien.
Performed by The Tiger Lillies and Laura Caldow
Lulu — A Murder Ballad, theatre review: 'Not so much dark as pitch black' / (http://www.independent.co.uk/)
JONATHAN BROWN • Friday 31 January 2014 • Score: *****
♦♦ It is not like we weren’t warned. “It is not a happy or a nice story,” explain the programme notes to this rekindling of Frank Wedekind’s epic descent into the obscene heart of the male psyche and the unspeakable underbelly of the Victorian streets.
♦♦ But by the time you are reading the health warning it is already too late. This is not so much dark as pitch black. A steampunkish operetta about child sexual exploitation, prostitution, suicide and ultimately misogynistic murder, it is not an evening for people who get angry watching Benefits Street.
♦♦ Martyn Jacques and The Tiger Lillies enjoyed a cult hit and a 2002 Olivier award with their Shockheaded Peter and Lulu offers extraordinary challenging musical theatre in the same vein. Vilely beautiful, chillingly mesmerising, the MC from hell leads us by the clammy hand through the tragic brutalised life of Lulu, a woman born to be abused by every man she ever meets.
♦♦ Needless to say, this Opera North, West Yorkshire Playhouse and Warwick Arts Centre co–production is not comfortable viewing, although I would defy anyone to remove their eyes from the sublimely illuminated stage as Laura Caldow delivers a heartbreakingly tender dance performance as the tragic heroine.
♦♦ Jacques’ trademark falsetto, mournful accordion and tinkling grand piano are accompanied by the brilliant Adrian Stout on contra bass, Theremin and musical saw and the equally outstanding Mike Pickering on percussion, who together create the most haunting and hypnotic of soundtracks with the sparsest resources.
♦♦ Even in her death throes Lulu brings shame on man, explains Jacques. True. Yet by presenting the abuse as some kind of burlesque “entertainment” it is hard not to feel we are simply propagating the timeless circle of male–on–female violence. You might want to take a shower when you get home but you won’t forget this.
By Ron Simpson • 31 Jan 2014 • Northeast • WOS Rating:****
♦♦ Lulu, as created by Frank Wedekind and most famously realised in the Pabst/Louise Brooks film and the Berg opera, is the archetypal predator and victim. The men she couples with usually end up dead, but she herself is constantly brutalised and ultimately dies at the hands of Jack the Ripper.
♦♦ Thus she forms an ideal subject for the Tiger Lillies, with their empathy with Victorian Grand Guignol and decadent inter–war cabaret. It was a bold decision by Opera North Projects to commission Lulu — A Murder Ballad, presented in association with West Yorkshire Playhouse and Warwick Arts Centre, a decision well justified by the enthusiastic near–capacity audience at the Courtyard Theatre and, no doubt, by the international touring still to come.
♦♦ Writer/composer/performer Martyn Jacques' programme note states clearly where his sympathies lie, with "the one person who has no choice: Lulu." The ballad tells her story, narrated in rasping Sprechgesang by Jacques as her "father" Shig, the first to exploit her, his self–delusion captured in the final irony. After a false curtain, he croons Cole Porter's great ballad of sexual cynicism, "My Heart Belongs to Daddy", and really seems to believe he treated her so well!
♦♦ The first half of Lulu: A Murder Ballad I found always interesting, with some moments of acute shock and some memorable melodies and images; the second half, with its bruised ballads and waltzes and the bizarre combination of accordion and musical saw, I found totally compelling. The focus is very much (perhaps too much) on Martyn Jacques, with his white–face clown's make–up, his eerie falsetto, his accordion and his often surprisingly delicate piano playing.
♦♦ Adrian Stout and Mike Pickering are reduced to band members, but both are superb, Stout adding the evocative sounds of jews harp, theremin and saw to his excellent bass playing, Pickering a powerful drummer who plays all kinds of games with his percussion toy–box!
♦♦ Jacques, as always, compels attention, but the eye is constantly drawn to the brilliant designs of Mark Holthusen, always on the move, often lop–sided, drifting in and out to provide a pictorial link to Lulu's travels or an atmospheric commentary on her situation. Aided by Tim Skelly's lighting, their visual impact creates drama beyond the trio's performance. The other added extra is the dancing of Laura Caldow, graceful, vulnerable, but not a Lulu who is consistently the focus of the drama.
♦♦ Finally I was left wanting to see it again, to fit everything into place. I suspect that it's a notch below the best of Tiger Lillies, but go to see it anyway — there's nothing else like it! (http://www.whatsonstage.com/)
Lyn Gardner • Tuesday 4 February 2014 12.44 GMT • Score: ***
West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds
This Opera North production, inspired by Wedekind's Lulu plays and featuring the Tiger Lillies, makes for disturbing and compulsive viewing.
♦♦ With their vaudeville style, twisted humour and distinctive hurdy–gurdy sound, the deliciously maverick Tiger Lillies have always been a band with a theatrical bent. But since their involvement with the glorious Shockheaded Peter more than a decade ago, they have never quite found a way to present their work successfully within a fully fledged theatrical context.
♦♦ This song cycle inspired by Frank Wedekind's Lulu plays comes somewhat closer, unfolding like an expressionistic black and white nightmare as it tells the story of the abused Lulu from her early childhood to death at the hands of Jack the Ripper. Wedekind and the Tiger Lillies is a pretty nifty pairing in this Opera North production, designed with flair by Mark Holthusen to create a world that is always just out of kilter, with its bent lamp–posts and sinister, skewed windows.
♦♦ This story and its telling — whether Wedekind's original two–part play, Berg's opera or Pabst's silent movie with Louise Brooks — is, as always, highly problematic. It is made more problematic here by an all–male creative team that thrusts the lead singer, Martyn Jacques, and his melancholic falsetto, centre stage, while leaving Lulu — the dancer Laura Caldow — to float behind him like a gauzy wraith or vulnerable butterfly.
♦♦ But then, Wedekind's creation has always defied attempts to pin her down. She is a bewitching illusion. Lulu is what men want, and yet is also what they fear; she destroys men, yet is destroyed by them; she is a free spirit who is bought and sold. The ambiguities are pointed up by the way Jacques says Lulu's name: sometimes like sugar melting on his tongue, sometimes like a snarl.
♦♦ Wedekind was inspired — in part — to write his Lulu plays by seeing a dancer in a circus, and that's the motif in a piece that gives the male band a voice while denying one to Lulu. She is a mute, whirling, doll–like dancer endlessly caught within a series of frames and black–and–white projections from which there is no escape. She is a fetishised spectacle, trapped in our gaze. The repetitive window imagery reminds us that we are all peeping toms, paying to look. It makes you as uncomfortable as hell, but you never turn your fascinated gaze away. (http://www.theguardian.com/)
Reviewer: Sue Collier • The Public Reviews Score: ***½
Posted by Tracey Lowe on 15/02/2014 • Score: ****
Review by David Chadderton
WORDS PAUL • UPDATED 30 JANUARY 2014
|The Tiger Lillies — Lulu — A Murder Ballad (2014)|