Hitting the road for a brief run of dates around Australia to mark the release of his free-for-download solo album Love Come Save Me, Mat. McHugh of The Beautiful Girls played to a sold-out Black Bear Lodge in Brisbane.
The new album sees McHugh return to a largely acoustic format heard only sporadically on The Beautiful Girls albums since the 2003’s hallmark Learn Yourself. With this McHugh has hit the road in persuit of this same intimate sound as a solo performer, crafting the layered sound with acoustic guitar, keyboard and a healthy dose of samples and loops.
Opening with a stripped-back version fo 2010’s My Mind Is An Echo Chamber and following it up with 2002’s On A Clear Day, Mat. McHugh set off on a setlist that would cover every period and genre heard in McHugh’s past decade of music. Some songs faithful to their original version and others — as in the case of Echo Chamber — stripped back and reinvented to suit the intimacy of McHugh’s solo show.
Followers of The Beautiful Girls will be familiar with McHugh’s penchant for blending his own tracks with those of idols and inspirations, and in the solo acoustic setting this habbit becomes truly part of the show. Love Come Save Me‘s Pocket Full Of Shells segued into Bob Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright, Under The Landslide kickstarted a medley of Bob Marley’s Waiting in Vain and U2’s One and the night’s closing track La Mar catapulting into Pearl Jam’s anthemic Black.
New track Go Don’t Stop from Love Come Save Me was met with admiration and fit perfectly in a set that also featured no shortage of TBG fan favourites, from Periscopes (which also saw McHugh cajole the largely seated crowd get up off the floor), Long Way Home and a truly menacing Blackbird.
During the show McHugh suggested that releasing music and touring will continue under his own name rather than The Beautiful Girls down the track. As the start of a new chapter in Mat. McHugh’s musical journey, Wednesday night’s show at Brisbane’s Black Bear Lodge seems to signal yet another chapter in a career built on stark genre, direction and stylistic changes.