Words: Kieran Toms
Live: The Tallest Man On Earth at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds (25 Nov '10)
Lone acoustic guitar singer songwriters are rarely this captivating. In the sold out Brudenell Social Club, the whole audience is entranced by The Tallest Man On Earth (the moniker of Kristian Matsson). It helps of course that he is utterly charming, a handsome and capable front man, a master of the smouldering glance toward audience members, the wistful stare into middle distance.
Matsson gives off the impression of being completely at ease in front of an audience. As evidenced in his music, despite being a Swedish native his English is spot on, and he banters with the crowd with his shy self deprecating humour to great effect, providing a great release of tension and concentration between songs.
It feels a bit old-fashioned some ways - insofar as the sort of aloof/cool restraint people might sometimes exhibit at an acoustic gig like this is forgotten. People whoop and cheer mid-song, not rudely, but in irrepressible response to the music, be it a powerful change of dynamic, or a particularly stressed lyric that stands out as he roams the stage. The guitar is loud enough, and his voice powerful enough, to make such audience interaction a happy and positively memorable part of the show – nobody is talking over him, as is often the bane of acoustic gigs like this, but instead they are so engrossed in the performance that they forget whatever limitations they might otherwise have, and whoop when it’s suitable, and Matsson revels in it. But when things get more fragile, as they frequently do, there’s a reverential silence, every eye trained on one man, every syllable seeming vital.
The songs, a spread of older tunes, and tracks from the latest EP, 'Sometimes The Blues Is Just A Passing Bird' sound brilliant tonight, no more so than when his wife, (who is also the support act, Idiot Wind) tiptoes onstage and duets on 'Thrown Right At Me', the two sharing a mic, singing “you’re so beautiful now” at each other. I’m aware that it could very easily sound incredibly cheesy, but such is the magical atmosphere in the Brudenell, that it works.
By the time the encore comes round, Matsson is enjoying himself so much that he plays double the promised “couple of songs”, including requests - a Bob Dylan cover, and an old song he confesses to have forgotten half the words to. No matter, as the crowd bellow it for him. That he can leave the stage after an hour and a half with the crowd still begging him for more shows just how special a show this is.
STREAM: The Tallest Man On Earth - Little River
'Sometimes The Blues Is Just A Passing Bird' is available now at iTunes.com or Amazon.co.uk.
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