Live Review: The Beautiful Girls + Bobby Alu + Pat Tierney – The Factory Theatre, Sydney (18.01.19)

There’s something really underrated about bands that play with as a three piece. Sure, having twelve people in your band means you can add incredible depth to your sound, but the raw basic-ness of guitar, bass and drums is something that will always manage to be magic in live setting. This is no different when The Beautiful Girls take to the stage.

Heading out on their annual summer tour, The Beautiful Girls hit Sydney’s Factory Theatre and treated new and old fans to the best of their back catalogue, whilst throwing in a few little surprises along the way.

Opening up the night was North Coast slide guitarist Pat Tierney. Admittedly not knowing any of his tracks going into the night, Tierney was tight and accomplished as he brought his brand of roots to those starting their Friday night early. Closing on a stellar cover of the Paul Simon classic “Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes”, I’d definitely look at investing some time into discovering Pat Tierney.

Main support for the night and entire tour came in the form of Bobby Alu. Possibly the coolest guy in the industry, Alu was effortlessly classy throughout his 45 minute set, as he lead with vocal and Ukelele; able supported by Paulie Bromley on Bass. The two weaved their harmonies brilliantly during the entirety of their set; something that definitely doesn’t happen enough in modern live music. Again, I didn’t know too much of Bobby Alu heading into the night, but that definitely didn’t stop me enjoying what was a pretty bloody fantastic set. Set highlights came in the form of “My Style”, “Love You More” and the killer drum track “Tagi”. Once more, I’d be doing you an injustice if I didn’t suggest investing some time and money into listening to or seeing Bobby Alu live.

As the brains and lyricist behind The Beautiful Girls, front man Mat McHugh surely has to be one of the most underrated musicians in the country. Staying independent for the entirety of his career, McHugh constantly and consistently brings the goods to his long time and loyal fans; experimenting with his tracks to spice up even the most well known songs from the six TBG albums.

Opening up the set with an almost unrecognisable “Morning Sun”, the band quickly moved into Spooks standout “10 10”. With Paulie B returning to man the bass, his playing was an early peak for a set that seemed like it was going to continue to go upward. The jam at the end of “Don’t Wait” was met by a massive applause from the crowd, before they moved into “I Thought About You”. Off the Ziggurats album, “I Thought About You” has always been a personal favourite of mine; something that couldn’t necessarily be said of McHugh. Having noted that he generally doesn’t like what he put out on Ziggurats, I’m glad he continually plays tracks from it; if only for fans like me.

Slowing it down just a little for most recent single “Beautiful World”, McHugh got real and sentimental with the crowd as he spoke about living in the now and for tomorrow. At the root of it all, it’s a fair and wholesome message.

Dropping a reggae’d version of “Dela”, an alternate version of “Let’s Take The Long Way Home” was a definite personal favourite moment of the set. I take notes throughout shows so I can remember what I liked during the set. All I wrote about “Let’s Take The Long Way Home” was ‘fkn sick’. Yep, Friday night me was pretty spot on with that summary.

The unmistakable opening riff of “Music” garnered a hearty response from the crowd. Running the track into a verse of U2’s “One” was a special moment in a set that managed to have its fair share of mashups throughout. Dedicating “Periscopes” to those that have supported The Beautiful Girls during the past 15 years, I was thrown back to the first time I saw the band, at Splendour In The Grass 2012. To this day, irrespective of the amount of times I’ve seen The Beautiful Girls, that will always be my favourite set.

Throwing it back to “No 1 Stylee”, the band played a real psyched out version of “Blackbird” whilst chucking in a subtle nod to The Police’s “Roxanne”. As the night began drawing to a close, McHugh told the crowd to ‘be kind, be good and don’t be too hard on yourself’; something I think we should all live by.

Closing on the Sublime track “Don’t Push”, the band brought in a little of their own song “Dance Hall Days”, with Bobby Alu on the drums going double time and absolutely crushing the jam at the back end of the song. Returning for their most loved track, the love within the room was insatiable as the band closed on sentimental favourite “La Mar”.

It’s true that only having three members in your band can be a little limiting. But in the scheme of things, when you’re putting out what The Beautiful Girls are putting down, well, it really doesn’t matter.


The Beautiful Girls‘ summer tour continues at the following dates:

Thursday 24th January 2019 – Granada Tavern, Hobart TAS
Friday 25th January 2019 – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne VIC
Friday 8th February 2019 – The Triffid, Brisbane QLD
Saturday 9th February 2019 – Redland Bay Hotel, Redland Bay QLD

(This reviewer attended the show on Friday, 18th January)