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London’s the Tiger Lillies are celebrating 30 years of their provocative brand of avant-garde punk-cabaret with their symphonic latest album, Devil’s Fairground (out 15 February). Themes of junkies, prostitutes and all forms of vice continue to make up the majority of their work, while frontman Martyn Jacques has a knack for finding beauty in the macabre and grotesque, like Poe, Lovecraft and Edward Gorey before him. The band have performed all over the world, making their way from humble beginnings busking in the streets and playing bar-rooms to performing in massive concert halls and opera houses. They’ve also shared bills with St. Vincent, John Cale, Patti Smith, David Byrne and many others, and have built a legion of devoted fans including film director Terry Gilliam, the late Robin Williams and Simpsons creator Matt Groening.
Devil’s Fairground takes the listener on a tour through the sordid underbelly of post-soviet Prague, where Jacques’s eye finds poetry in legless drunks, bored hookers and fatherless children. When the Tiger Lillies first began touring Europe in the early ‘90s, Prague was a place filled with exceptional hedonism. The Velvet Revolution had tossed out communism and separated Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia without a drop of blood being spilt, but the lost years between communism and capitalism had left a vacuum and the Tiger Lillies spent their time there cavorting with the artists and freaks. The band returned to Prague in September 2018 to record Devil’s Fairground live with a full orchestra, channelling the band’s experiences in the city between the fall of the Soviet Union and the influx of Western tourists.
Martyn Jacques: vocals, accordion, piano, ukulele
Adrian Stout: upright bass, saw, acoustic guitar
Jonas Golland: drums