By Deb Kloeden, Rock At Night Adelaide correspondent in Adelaide and Melbourne
Review: Mat McHugh, Waves Tour
Venues: The Ramsgate Hotel, Adelaide. 9th June, 2016
The Toff in Town, Melbourne. 2nd July, 2016
Australia’s Mat McHugh; lead singer and songwriter from The Beautiful Girls, has gone solo! In October last year, he released a solo album called ‘Waves’ which he offered as a free download. He was all set to tour and promote the album when he sustained a debilitating neck injury, which forced him to cancel the tour and spend months of rehabilitation. As he is an independent artist, this meant a huge loss of income (paying his rent was hard) and for a while, he was unsure if he would fully recover.
So it was a time to rejoice when he announced that he was fit to play again and finally tour, promoting the album he called ‘his best yet’. He decided that he wanted to use small, intimate venues for this tour and so apart from Australia’s major cities, he has also performed in places like Katoomba, Mona Vale, Bulli, Mooloolaba and will finish the tour in the top end of Australia in Townsville and Cairns, Queensland. This demonstrates that he wants to reach as many fans as possible. He even asked his followers on Facebook to suggest venues for this tour during the planning stage. He will perform 26 shows in total on this tour, spanning nearly 2 months on the road.
I feel privileged to have caught him twice on this tour, first in Adelaide in a beach-side hotel, The Ramsgate at Henley Beach. Then, secondly, in Melbourne, at The Toff in Town. Although a solo tour, he has been joined on stage by David Briceno who provided synthesized electronic beats, loops and effects. He opened his shows with ‘Avalanches’, one of my favourite tracks from Waves. It’s a reflective song that likens the ocean to hard times. Being a mellower track, he promised to up the beats and get everyone dancing, which he did early into his first set. He followed this with ‘Under the Landslide’, an older track from his Seperatista album, and later, ‘Go Don’t Stop’ from his Love Come Save Me album. Although he didn’t play every track from Waves, he did play ‘Magic’, ‘High Up’, ‘All I Ever Wanted’, ‘Black Rainbows’ (the most popular song from the album) and ‘Sideways’. Mat also performed some of the well-known Beautiful Girls songs like my favourite, ‘La Mar’, which cleverly morphed into Radiohead’s ‘I’m a Creep’. It was such a clever remix. After this track, Mat returned for an acoustic encore and performed other popular Beautiful Girls songs ‘Let’s Take the Long Way Home’, ‘Music’ and finally ‘Periscopes’, their first single.
Although Waves is a ‘free download’, Mat encouraged his fans to ‘pay what you can’ when downloading the album in order to help with production costs. I downloaded my version as soon as it was released and of course, paid for the privilege. This album has become a constant on my playlists so it was very special to finally see Mat perform the tracks I had grown so fond of. This 10 track CD demonstrates how Mat has evolved as a musician. It blends his traditional reggae style with more modern dancehall/dub and hip-hop influences.
After the gig I attended in Adelaide, Mat made himself available to fans for a chat, signings and photos. No one could have said they didn’t get their money’s worth. I’m so glad Mat has recovered enough from his neck injury to be able to deliver this wonderful album live.
There are 4 more shows in Australia on this Waves tour:
• Sun July 3rd – Pelly Bar, Frankston, Vic
• Thu July 7th – Magnum’s, Airlie Beach, Queensland
• Fri July 8th – Flinders Social, Townsville, Queensland
• Sat July 9th – Tanks Arts Centre, Cairns, Queensland
Then he and David will be heading to Germany and Holland in September.
• Friday 9 Sept – Zucker, Osnabrück
• Saturday 10 Sept – Strandpaviljoen Timboektoe, Velsen-Noord
• Sun 11 Sept – Knust, Hamburg
• Tues 13 Sept – Musik & Frieden, Berlin
• Thu 15 Sept – Crisp, Munich
• Fri 16 Sept – Paradiso, Amsterdam
• Sat 17 Sept – DownUnderBeach, Scheveningen/Den Haag
• Sun 18 Sept – Fachwerk, Münster
In between tours, Mat says he is going to get back into his favourite pastime, surfing, to get his fitness and strength back. If you can catch him on one of his tours, I thoroughly recommend.
DOWNLOAD WAVES (free)
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From Darkroom to Lightroom in 4 decades.
Deb is aPhotographer, Music Lover, Ex teacher, and traveller.