Mat McHugh & The Beautiful Girls @ The Gov, Adelaide 3/2/2023

After three years of cancelled shows and uncertainty due to the pandemic, Matt McHugh has brought his much loved Australian coastal groove tunes back on the road touring the country throughout many regional towns and major cities to land at The Gov for a packed out show and performing at his “favourite f**king place to play in this country”. It comes as no surprise, as The Gov was almost built for bands like his, with prefect acoustics for their sound and a relaxed atmosphere for his shows which are still sounding as good and energetic as they did fifteen years ago when 20-something year old Bec was obsessed with their breakthrough album Learn Yourself and watched them at the very same venue.

Starting off the night was support act and ‘The Voice’ contestant, Adelaide local Mason Lloyde, who commanded the room with his one man show on acoustic guitar and kick drum. Sounding incredibly large for one musician coordinated enough to play guitar, percussion and sing, Lloyd filled the room with his extraordinary and emotive voice to a mostly seated audience, commanding the chatty crowds’ attention and delivering originals such as Struggle and a lovely little tune written about his dog. He spoke about each song and how he came to write it and humbly gushed at the fact he was supporting such a well-established outfit as The Beautiful Girls. His set was short but packed with catchy cheerful songs, each one building in tempo and slowly getting the crowd up and grooving.

Matt McHugh was accompanied by his current line-up of The Beautiful Girls with keys, bass and drums which managed to pull off something sounding much bigger, bringing in trumpet, saxophone and organ sounds to complete their style of groove, rock, blues and reggae. The audience were absolutely here for it and revelled every second with young girls bopping about in floral dresses and the smell of devil’s lettuce wafting through the haze of the smoke machine. Theyplayed a strong set blending new and old, the most favourite tracks however were from yours truly Learn Yourself, such as jolly relaxed tune Music to a chorus of wooing and everybody dancing.

Between all the boho hippy chic fashion, colourful lighting and carefree jiving, you could almost have mistaken The Gov for some cocktail bar at a far away tropical holiday resort. Everyone was happy, relaxed and having fun, one guy even getting his shirt off and flinging it on stage. McHugh really succeeded in creating the perfect atmosphere for his special brand of energetic easy listening while proving that he still sounds as good as ever. His distinctive soft but chirpy youthful voice delivered popular tracks Black Bird and a fast-paced banging rendition of Thought About You. Many of their tracks were extended to allow for solos from the band members, most notably Shannon Stitt on keys who played flawlessly and enhanced the bluesy reggae vibes.

McHugh interjected some popular covers throughout his tracks such as Paul Simon’s Call me Al and the The Chilli Peppers’ Soul to Squeeze amping up the audience even further. The hour and a half set was blended seamlessly into a great big happy jam session of quality music, reminiscent of lazy days at the beach and road trips to the Fleurieu Peninsula which funnily enough, they are headed to next. If you’re on the fence about this one, I can guarantee you will not be disappointed with the performance and catching them at one of their next coastal town shows will be a joyful nostalgic time.

Live Review By Bec Scheucher

%d bloggers like this: