BigSound Night 1: Brisbane’s Paddy McHugh Back With A Message

On a night spoilt for choice, Paddy McHugh was a highlight.

Night one of BigSound and Paddy brought country rock to Fortitude Valley. The Brisbane native had the Empire Hotel in the palm of his hands with his honest and no nonsense approach to music. Having recently signed with ABC music for his upcoming record ‘City Bound Trains’, last night we were lucky to hear some of his new material.

He opened with a moving a Capella performance of ‘My Name is Pat McHugh’, an introduction that revealed his family’s history and the experiences that shaped his identity. For the first time all day the bar was silent. He followed it with ‘Down to Sydney’, a song about travelling and the twists you can encounter on your journey, gradually bringing in the full band. Paddy’s rich, warm vocals melted beautifully with the driving double bass. Playing as a band for the first time in a while Paddy fronted a stellar group of tight players.

Passionate about writing songs with a message, the music took a sombre turn with a track that explored the damning statistics of the life expectancy of Indigenous men in a small northern NSW town. You could hear the pain and weight of emotion behind every word he sang as he highlighted the issues facing our Indigenous Australians. Following the song he asked the crowd to be aware of their plight and help fight the good fight to help all Australians have equal opportunity.

Paddy followed up with ‘City Bound Trains’ from his record being released in three weeks. The new track teases of what’s in store, with punchy guitars and an energetic Paddy. Special guest Emma Beau then joined the band to play mandolin as Paddy introduced his next song ‘Brunswick Street’, inspired by the party lifestyle and nightclub scene here in the heart of the valley.

Wrapping up the show Paddy finished with a powerful and emotional song titled ‘The Snowmen’, about James Hardy and the epidemic of asbestos related cancers killing Australians. The song sent a clear message with lyrics like ‘we’ll sing to our last breath, James Hardy caused our deaths’, chanted at the end of the song by the entire band as the instruments slowly faded out.  Paddy McHugh’s music is a statement of being aware, being present and being able to stand up to the corporations. With a new record mere weeks away he’s one to watch in the country rock scene.

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