Last Friday night Stu and I popped into London's glitzy West End to the New Players Theatre to see the Tiger Lillies perform Songs of Shockheaded Peter and Other Gory Verses.
We'd seen The Tiger Lillies do a guest spot with Justin Bond last year and a full gig three years ago so we knew what to expect; the white-paint faced, bowler hatted and ear-splitting falsetto voiced singer Martyn Jacques with the saw-twanging and drumming of the two Adrians - Stout and Huge (not their real names, surely.)
The trio's consummate musicianship coupled with their own particular style of Brechtian cabaret meant the night was as entertaining musically as it was shocking for it's content. You see the Tiger Lillies aren't exactly known for their soft choices of subject matter.
Dr. Heinrich Hoffmann, a Frankfurt 'medical man of the lunatic asylum', wrote and illustrated The Struwwelpeter (Shockheaded Peter) more than 150 years ago because he couldn't find anything on the shelves to fire the imagination of (and terrify) his children. And he did a pretty good job too. Martyn Jacques wrote music to this and so was born Shockheaded Peter. It was this that was the core of the material played on Friday night.
A boy who sucked his thumbs had then cut off. A boy who forever gazed skyward fell down a river bank and drowned. A pig who learned to read was slaughtered. A girl of loose morals died of a nasty disease. Call them fables... call them morality tales... they made us laugh and laugh.