Home Estate Planning Lessons in Nihilism at Wilton’s Music Hall: The Tiger Lillies x David Hoyle mash-up is a hoot

Lessons in Nihilism at Wilton’s Music Hall: The Tiger Lillies x David Hoyle mash-up is a hoot

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If you were a Nineties’ teenager into moody art and politics, you may have spent long evenings listening to The Tiger Lillies.

Millennials and Gen-Z may be forgiven for not knowing the trio’s blend of 30’s Berlin-inspired cabaret scores and social satire, as marketing is mostly run as low-key social media and word-of-mouth . Even if their signature style made it into the 1998 West End musical Shockheaded Peter, mainstream it is not. With a considerable following outside of the UK, the London dates at The Wilton Music Hall kick off their 2024 tour, touching most European Capitals and including Ukraine, where they were the first band to perform after the invasion.

The band founder and lead singer, Martyn Jacques, on the accordion, wearing his trademark Oskar Kraus-style make up, a pinstriped waistcoat and a bowler hat displaying a FCK PTN tag, deadpan and purposefully rigid on stage, delivers in falsetto both repertoire classics and songs from their recent CD, Lessons in Nihilism. Adrian Stout, on base guitar and a barely-there electric bass, is gently entertaining when playing, with abracadabra motions, the theremin: a keyboard-looking electronic instrument invented in 1928’s Russia, but it is the drummer of the group, Budi Budenop, that carries the band for the entire evening and steals the show with virtuoso solos, at one point drumming with a toy doll for drumsticks.

David Hoyle takes centre stage every two or three songs, offering light comedy interludes in the guise of restrained, yet punchy, social commentary to the lyrics themselves and to the predicament of a comedian in times of war and disillusionment with the elected class. Imagine the biting political remarks of Frankie Boyle, delivered in the mannerism of Julian Clary, minus the crass double-entendres and a couple of decades. His signature style being affected elocution of random words, whose syllables are uncoupled and then elongated, David cuts a brilliant cabaret figure in “light maquillage du jour”: electric blue hair and matching glittery eye shadow, completely owning the stage, affectionately interacting with the audience and then quietly draping himself and his exquisitely long legs over a day bed when the spotlights are back on the Tiger Lillies again for the next songs.

Last, but not least, the venue itself elevates an evening of good comedy and music into a unique experience.

Wilton Music Hall is London’s oldest music hall surviving in its original design. It would cater to all manner of Londoners: seafaring mariners and dockers, married and unmarried ladies, East End traders. Half-way, as the crow flies, between The City and Canary Wharf, it has been restored conservatively, preserving original flagstones, doorways, handrails and even a copper tap, protruding from naked tubing at the back of the stalls and dispensing perfectly drinkable water to patrons.

Wilton’s is a delightful theatre, with an eclectic and innovative programme worth keeping your diary free for, and this collaboration between David Hoyle and The Tiger Lillies for Lessons in Nihilism provides accomplished musical and cabaret entertainment worth travelling to East London for.

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