The thick greasepaint, bowler hats and musical saw set the scene early on for this evening but it's the Tiger Lillies' songs, a faded carnival of souls, upon which their reputation rests. It's a reputation for shocking squeamish audiences and delighting rowdier ones; this crowd was somewhere in the middle.
Martyn Jacques' falsetto brought to life a rogue's gallery of sailors, prostitutes and criminals, and throughout the evening sex and death provided the central subject matter. While he played ukulele, accordion, guitar and piano, Adrian Stout's contrabass, saw and theremin provided a level of gravitas and newer addition Jonas Golland's understated percussion rounded out the trio.
On 'Red Moon', Jacques' voice was accompanied by just bass and drums for a surprisingly sensual account of a depraved murderer's demise while the jaunty 'Sailor' rivals the Sensational Alex Harvey Band's '...Next' as the least sexy song ever written about sex. The wild theremin climaxes reassured the crowd that Jacques' tongue was planted firmly in his cheek, but didn't distract from the fact that some of the bawdier numbers resembled verse written on the walls of a public toilet. The nihilistic revelling has aged better, and the trio enjoyed celebrating our impending demise with gusto.
There was minimal audience interaction for most of the set, apart from a brief squeal of “doomed!” as an airplane flew over the Spiegeltent, though the set ended with a welcome call for requests from the audience. Appeals for several crowd favourites were met with a dismissive “nice song, but it's old – we don't remember it” before the trio settled on a representative selection.
That meant more toilet door musings with 'Hamsters' and a heartbreakingly sweet 'Tiger Lillie Line' before the set ended with a gloriously over-the-top performance of 'Crack Of Doom', reminding us that all things must end.