All text copyright Stephen Coates 2006 - 2015

TIGERS IN ST PETERSBURG



It feels like I have known The Tiger Lillies for a very long time.

I first met Martyn and Sophie in London not long before they were burned out of their Soho flat by an unscrupulous landlord. He was bent on getting rid of them and claiming the insurance.  We had been together in the country for the weekend and returned to the city on the Sunday evening.  I said goodbye to them but heard by phone-call later that they had lost everything - clothes, photographs, instruments and all the music they had recorded for years.  All gone up in smoke.  The weekend had been a Buddhist retreat so I suppose it was a brutal practical lesson in permanence

It actually kind of turned out all right in the end and the band have gone from strength to strength since despite being largely ignored by the music press and industry (well, in the UK at least) - a fact I feel a certain resonance with.

Strangely, we have never shared a bill until this weekend in
St Petersburg.  That was very nice and I do hope we can do so again someday.  Oh and that reminds me, here is the original of the song 'Someday' that Martyn recorded for me a few years ago. 

Quite wonderful and I hope you enjoy it.

They are a very stylish band and very nicely turned out indeed so it was an aesthetic pleasure too.  And it was also wonderful to be back in Russia with our old friends there and to make some new ones. St Petersburg is such a beautiful city.  It is built on a marsh and I heard that the gas that is still released from beneath the surface is addictive and so people keep returning.  I can believe it.

If you were at the show and witnessed the ritual massacre of the great pink elephant, I salute you.  

17 comments:

ArtSparker said...

Saw them in Shock-headed Peter some years back, they were quite a revelation. It makes sense that you all hang out together.

spillyjane said...

If I had a nickel for every time I've heard (on NPR, at least) of some other artist/band who combine Prohibition-Era music with modern electronic soundscapes -- well, I'd have at least 15 cents by now. The point is, I always think of you, and wonder why you and your music aren't being talked about/reviewed/discussed on NPR.

spillyjane said...

Also, you might appreciate this: I had the most remarkable Cabaret-themed dream last night. Having the chance to exist that world, if only briefly, was simply amazing.

Anonymous said...

can't wait to write a comment to the post about your very own gig in SPb, Mr Coates...

you said...

re: the Pink Elephant... I was on the other side and witnessed something completely different... a bunch of three very drunk women (two old, one young) and a man in a baseball cap coiled in a clench... clenched in a coil... trying to pry the ties of the remaining couple of large baloons out of the hands of the others... two of the ladies dropping off in the process, the man and the smallest, the oldest and the drunkest woman were pushing each other as hard as they could... it ended with the much taller, much younger and, surprisingly, much more sober baseball cap win by knockout... he kicked the small unsteady woman with his leg so hard she fell over... can't forget her face of a five-year-old about to wail... fighting over pink baloons... all to your music...

spillyjane said...

Hey, what's a little sparagmos between friends?

How dionysiac of you, Mr. Coates.

you said...

that's the thing... that was a terrible full-swing blow... a penalty kick right into that poor woman... you do not kick women, let alone your friends, like footballs... Mr Coates was doing what he does best at that moment... perform... that is... it was... bizarre... incongruous... the whole of the crowd was... far from the clerkenwell feel... they came for the beer... sausage chewing mob... babes would go 'ah... who did you say this guy eeeez...'... not that I expected everyone to turn up in their top hats... but... just totally wrong aesthetics...

you said...
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you said...

come to think of it... I take the 'wrong aesthetics' claim back... say, they all did wear gaiters and corsets and bustles... a dunken violent scuffle between a young-ish butcher's boy and an age-ing seamstress at the end would make perfect sense... better suiting Tiger Lillies, though...

clerkenwell kid said...

Oh seems I missed all that - the perils and pleasures of being short sighted..

It did rather look like a good natured version of Lord of the Flies from where I was. I was presented with 'The Elephant's Balls' at the end.

Always sorry to hear of bad behaviour thoigh- everyone seemed very happy!

Anonymous said...

can you actually see people in the crowd when you perform?... don't think I'd want to look into the crowd if I were on stage... did you enjoy the gig yourself? 'good-natured Lord of the Flies'... the audience younger than normal? or just a bit too savagey? I wondered how you would fare at a beerfest, but you seemed to handle it all marvelously :)...

clerkenwell kid said...

I can only usually see a couple of rows in but can get a good sense of things beyond.

I enjoyed that show a lot. We have played all over to all sorts - the likely and the unlikely. It takes a little longer sometimes

Originally I never had any intention or desire to play live. I've always been most happy in the studio. I was lured out and have been kept out by meeting the lovely people who have come to shows

you said...

you are amazing... as are the guys... and the video was mind-blowing... as always... the venue was definitely a highlight... as I walked from the metro station, it felt like some endless alternative-reality post-apocalyptical Kensington... (wrong comparison, I know... but this is what it felt like at that moment)...

zurich said...

Are there any plans of coming to Moscow in the foreseeable future? Moscow is not so taxidermic and dreamy as St. Petersburg, but still has it's own charm and mythology (and there're direct flights from the place I live, which I wouldn't fancy neither you nor Tiger Lilies ever willing to come to).

clerkenwell kid said...

I will be back in January for a DJ set and for monkey business and I hope to take the band there in Spring. We love Moscow - and Zurich too of course

you said...

monkey business in Moscow... in January! Mr Kid! You must be joking... the rivers will be all frozen...

zurich said...

Great news thanks! I hope I'll be able to come. As for Zurich, it's my name, not the city I live in.