Live Review: The Beautiful Girls

20 August 2012 | 12:56 pm | Tom Birts

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Couples, veterans and solo pilots packed Fly By Night in Freo for the last chance to see Mat McHugh's The Beautiful Girls. After ten years and one final 26-stop tour of the country, The Girls will dissolve and McHugh will go to work on other projects. It's been a fun ride for the fans, and no doubt for the various band members who have helped him transform his thoughts and lyrics into music and some of the defining moments of this decade's Aussie blues and roots journey.

The band were half an hour late to the stage - as if we didn't already know, this was their party. After opener, My Mind Is An Echo Chamber, from 2010's Spooks, McHugh took the mic to let us know he'd had “a shitty day”. But before we could worry that he was pooping his own party, he was inciting the crowd to hector the hapless rhythm guitarist. He'd apparently indulged in hallucinogens pre show, and things were starting to get a bit Fear And Loathing... Then it was into their cover of UB40's Bring Me Your Cup. And there were a lot of covers, the best of which was Tenor Saw's Ring The Alarm with harmonising from bassist Paulie Bromley and a solid skank on the skins from Bruce Braybrooke. The biggest cheers though were for anything from Ziggurats, and when I Thought About You fired up, we knew we'd miss them.

You have to wonder about McHugh's recent flip of the bird to Big Day Out. Is it the place for a band that are part social justiceers, part pub supergroup? That's not a criticism, nor a limitation - it's just in the DNA. But Fly By Night was certainly the perfect venue for what The Beautiful Girls are selling.

As an encore and a swan song, could there be any other? La Mar worked its way from the vocal crowd's vocal chords up, around the beams and into the woodgrain. And so it goes/And so it goes. And so they went. Farewell and adieu to you, The Beautiful Girls.

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