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31 January

Summertime in Fremantle, and even if it was a little fresher than normal for a January night, the livings easy. Summertime is also the perfect backdrop for the laidback coastal vibe of The Beautiful Girls.

Mat McHugh and co. rolled into Freo.Social mid-way through the tour for their latest release Seaside Highlife Greatest Hits, an album of tracks spanning their twenty year career.

Opening for the seasoned surfsiders was relative newcomer Jackson Carroll, out on his first lap around the country. Looking dapper in a red velvet jacket and featuring Luke Carra from Caravana Sun on acoustic guitar as his lone musical backing, Carroll’s vocals were a striking focus of his set. With tracks like Holy Hell and How Does it Feel?, Caroll combines impressive song writing ability with a distinct and powerful voice. Starting with just his vocals but then picking up an acoustic guitar to combine with Carra, the audience watched in awe at what was possibly the first exposure to the Sydneysider for many.

Midway through the set the venue fell into absolute silence with Carroll performing acapella – it was a moment of raw vulnerability, with just the power of his words and voice haunting to hear midway through a set, with the captivating performance slowly pulling in the crowd from the shadows into the front of the stage.

“There’s a big beautiful spot up the front for dancing” was the invitation as the second half of the set changed pace with a more upbeat feel, and by this point the audience were warmed up and ready, being immediately drawn in as Carroll engaged in a sing along. As the set rolled on Talking Heads got a nod with a cover of Psycho Killer before energy reached a crescendo as the set closed with cheery single Happyman. It’s funny to think that Carroll was barely born when The Beautiful Girls started, but he shows a level of experience beyond his years. Do yourself a favour and check him out when he tours Perth again this month on his Happyman tour.

The Beautiful Girls took to the Fremantle stage for their second night in WA, following their coastal roots with a show in Margaret River the night before. It’s only been six months since the band last visited the West on their Beautiful World tour, however the big crowd out for the nights show was testament to their popularity and the appetite for their laid back, rootsy reggae sound.

There was no small talk with the band straight into the groove of “We’re Already Gone”, it wasn’t until a few songs in before McHugh first addressed the audience, letting the music doing the talking for most of the night.

It was a full stage with songwriter/singer/guitarist McHugh adding keys, trumpet and sax to the regular guitar, bass and drums line-up, with the extra members filling out the sound and adding an extra dimension to the songs. There is nothing flashy about their live show, instead the beauty and genius lies in the subtlety of the rhythms, with the band and audience getting locked into and lost in the melody as they worked their way through songs like “The Biggest Lie I ever Told”, “I Thought About You”, “Music” and “10:10”

“We’re going to play some reggae, do you guys feel like dancing?” was the intro for Spanish Town, with the invitation keenly accepted and the dancefloor turning into a wavy ocean of heads and hands. As the night progressed the energy levels picked up as The Beautiful Girls got the party going with “Gratitude”, “Real Love” and “#1 Stylee”. The main set closed with the 2018 single Beautiful World, with a little bit of Every Day I love You/I See Red (depending on your leaning) mixed in for good measure.

After the obligatory encore break, the band came back out with McHugh asking “You guys feel like singing – I’ve sung this song enough times” as they led into Periscopes, a big song for the band back in the day and still clearly still hit tonight. “Fremantle, do you feel like singing loud? This next ones all yours” starting a meandering intro that then kicked into La Mar from debut album “Learn Yourself”. “Blackbird”, another track from their debut, and a jammed out version of Roxanne helped wrap up the almost two hour show.

Like a chilled out party at a mates place with good times and easy music, it was a beautiful night with The Beautiful Girls.

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