The Beautiful Girls @ The Corner
It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole decade since the sweet acoustic sound of The Beautiful Girls first graced our ears. Yet that was the beginning, and now this is the end. For all intensive purposes, this is the tour that marks the last time we will ever see Sydney’s Northern Beaches trio play together, allowing frontman and brainchild of the band, Mat McHugh to focus on a solo career. An interesting move, considering it has pretty much been the Mat McHugh Show since TBG first began all those years ago.
Sure, there have been some lineup changes – original members bassist Clay MacDonald and drummer Mitch Connelly left in 2005 and were replaced by Paulie Bromley and Bruce Braybrooke – but essentially it’s always been about McHugh. He has undergone a musical evolution in front of our very eyes, transforming from the beach-bum strums of Learn Yourself to the rock-reggae influence of the likes of The Police, and now even further into the reggae-dancehall genre. At the first of two last shows at Melbourne’s Corner Hotel, this served him well.
It was hard to read how the sold-out Friday night gig was going to play out – it was almost impossible getting into the joint before the band started, with the line stretching around the corner. Inside, it was packed to the rim with punters already on their way to a good night out on the town and bouncers seemingly oblivious to their inebriation. The acoustic songs were decently received but there was a groundswell of energy just waiting to bust out. Thankfully, this is where McHugh and co. stepped it up, switching from favourites like Learn Yourself, Blackbird and Let’s Take the Long Way Home to more recent recordings Don’t Wait, 10:10 and Gratitude. The crowd responded accordingly.
For anyone – fan or not – wanting that one last sing-a-long with McHugh, he made it pretty simple. An extended reggae mix of the band’s first commercial hit, Music, another of the band’s hits I Thought About You, a partial cover of Phil Collins’ In The Air Tonight in Rockers!, and a reggae-style cover of Tainted Love ticked all the boxes for the hungry crowd. At least that’s what it sounded like when the drunks behind me weren’t sending out deafening wolf-whistles. Notepad = reviewer – got it?
The set came to a rocking ska conclusion with trumpets blazing and instruments stinging, McHugh keeping his trademark cool as the tempo lifted. La Mar (The Ocean) and a cover of Radiohead’s Creep wrapped the two-hour set up nicely and sent the crowd onto the streets buzzing. God knows what mischief they caused afterwards.
BY JEN WILSON
LOVED: Reliving the memories.
HATED: The huge queue to get in.
DRANK: Not as much as everyone else.