Gig Review: The Tallest Man On Earth @ The Corner Hotel, 25th October

Playing mostly gentle acoustic music to a packed Tuesday night crowd certainly isn’t the easiest gig in the world. Kristian Matsson, also deceptively known as The Tallest Man On Earth, made it look absurdly easy however, to the point where the crowd’s reaction can only be adequately described as that of hero worship.

The Tallest Man On Earth’s music deserved nothing less. Armed initially with nothing but an acoustic guitar and a microphone, he played a set full mostly of gentle ballads from his two studio albums. As a solo performer, Matsson balanced charming banter with music absolutely perfectly, holding the crowd in the palm of his hand from the first note he sung with that unmistakable, earthy, Dylan-esque voice. 

Every song that he played was simply gorgeous. I Won’t Be Found opened proceedings, followed immediately by The Gardener. It’s one of the most emotionally confusing songs I’ve ever heard, given the contrast between Matsson’s musical style and its lyrics, and live the power of the song was almost overwhelming. The Tallest Man On Earth has a skill that all musicians aspire to: he can say so very much with so very little. All he needs is a guitar and his voice, and he can inspire emotions that any nine-man band would be jealous of.

Where Do My Bluebirds Fly was one of the definite highlights of the night, as restrained as it was beautiful. Matsson broke things up by using an electric guitar sporadically, playing keyboard occasionally, and sitting down for some of his more subdued tracks while pacing around the entire stage for his upbeat numbers. It was a masterclass in how to put on a solo live show. While I feel that The Tallest Man On Earth’s studio music can have a bit of a ‘sameness’ to it at times, live he mixed things up perfectly. 

A few songs from his latest EP, the wonderfully titled ‘Sometimes The Blues Is Just A Passing Bird’, made their way into the set, including Tangle In This Trampled Wheat, which was absolutely incredible. Technical problems halted the set at times, including mic problems and broken guitar strings, but really they just added to the inescapable feeling that the show was somehow special. In fact I feel like I do the show a discredit by focusing on individual songs, because it was a gig about so much more than its individual elements. The sense of beauty, escapism, delicateness, and nature that seeps into all of The Tallest Man On Earth’s music was so strong at this show that it was almost tangible.

That being said, a few of Matsson’s big songs really did lift the crowd’s energy, such as King Of Spain, Love Is All, and Pistol Dreams, all of which were fantastic. But for the most part it was the deathly silence of the crowd during songs that spoke volumes: every single person was utterly enchanted and captivated by what they were witnessing, barely capable of moving let along speaking. There were a few moments of hilarious crowd interaction between songs however, none more so than the Scottish guy who had a yelled conversation with Matsson and had the whole venue laughing with what was quite simply flawless comic timing.

Thrown At Me became a duet with Matsson’s partner, Amanda Bergman, who shared lead vocals to spectacular effect. It was the stuff of goosebumps, and anyone who was not smiling in the crowd is dead inside. The girl standing next to me burst out in tears at this point, which really does speak to the emotion of the show. The Tallest Man On Earth returned for a brief encore, finishing with his well-known cover of Jackson Browne’s fantastic song These Days. It was the perfect way to end a near-perfect gig.

It had been spell-binding, beautiful, sublime, and other-worldly show. Even with only a microphone and a guitar with a broken string, the beauty of Matsson’s music somehow makes you feel like everything is right in the world. Any world where music like this exists can’t be all that bad. 

One Response to “Gig Review: The Tallest Man On Earth @ The Corner Hotel, 25th October”

  1. he was fantastic at Womad Earthstation as well

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