Gig Review... The Tallest Man On Earth @ HMV Forum, London 22nd October 2012

After a rather frantic attempt to finish a pitcher at a Camden pub when realising the time, a friend and I ‘legged it’ to the tube and then to the HMV Forum in Kentish Town to witness a gig from a Swedish song-writing indie-folk master – Kristian Matsson a.k.a. The Tallest Man On Earth. Fortunately, we did not miss any of his set, where within 5 minutes of arriving the crowd erupted with joy as he ran on stage greeting the crowd with a brimming smile and multiple waves. Luckily I had the privilege to meet Kristian back in summer at the Green Man Festival, and noticed how polite and shy he really is. This is not the man we saw on stage this evening; wearing his classic attire of black jeans and a black vest, he was full of energy and was not fazed by the sold out crowd – he later said that it was “the biggest indoor crowd I have ever had the honour to play for”.

Picking up his one of many guitars, he got straight down to it, opening with latest album opener ‘To Just Grow Away’. This choice of opener is perfect as it eases the crowd into the set and settles down all their excitement and anticipation. His set was a mix of old and new, which just shows how consistently great he has been across all 3 of his fully released albums. Running through crowd favourites like ‘Love Is All’ and ‘The Gardener’ it was clear how powerful his precise finger-picking and intricate fretwork is as it united hipsters from across the capital. Known for his charisma and sly remarks, he’d frequently front the microphone to eye individuals in the audience during breaks from singing. Through the slightly ‘harder’ songs, the crowd grew silent with members of the audience ‘shushing’ other members – although annoying at times, this made the truly silent moments so precious and indescribable. After a well-greeted cover of David Bazan’s ‘Lost My Shape’, we are treated to real moments that highlight his full-throated, almost caustic voice, which managed to surprisingly fill the vast area of the HMV Forum, giving it some small bit of intimacy. Running through the mix of albums, his sound was almost exactly like his recordings except with a new gravity added to some of it, where it is even hard at points to differentiate between which period of his career he wrote the songs. Tunes such as ‘Where Do My Bluebird Fly’ and ‘Revelation Blues’ reach out to the crowd and evoke a sense of familiarity that could easily lull you to sleep or bring you to tears. In ‘the moment’ and coming to the end of his set, he was greeted with shouts to play ‘King Of Spain’ as his closer and dually granted everyone their wish. The phenomenal rendition of the song sent shivers down my spine and got everyone up and bouncing, even the top seated audience members. The end of the song brought a deafening shout back from the crowd ‘I want to be the King of Spain!’ for which shook the whole place.

After a short break he came back on stage for an inevitable encore – not one crowd member
left since they just had to have more. Personal favourite ‘The Wild Hunt’ was next, where Matsson continues his undeniable cohesion and dances around stage on one foot while also filling the stage standing still (event though it’s just him, a microphone stand, his guitars and a piano that take up space). This was immediately followed up by a cover of the all-time classic song by Paul Simon – ‘Graceland’. The crowd are sent into a mini frenzy in appreciation of the song choice, singing along as loud as they can as Kristian giggles and smiles throughout. The electric tune ‘The Dreamer’ is the final offering but was played on piano, slightly slower and with much more emotion bringing out the true muscle of his voice and to show the significance of the lyrics. After humming the last line in all its gentle nature, he collapses on the piano as if his lungs had given up, before jumping right back up and thanking the audience with a few bows, a few kisses and waves – after all his followers are “what keeps him in music and what keeps him going through the hard times and good”, he states before announcing this will be the last tour for a while (to create a new album, we hope).

The Tallest Man On Earth played:
To Just Grow Away
Love Is All
I Won’t Be Found
The Gardener
You’re Going Back
Lost My Shape (David Bazan Cover)
There’s No Leaving Now
The Sparrow And The Medicine
Burden Of Tomorrow
Leading Me Now
Wind And Walls
Like The Wheel
Where Do My Bluebird Fly
Revelation Blues
King Of Spain


The Wild Hunt
Graceland (Paul Simon Cover)
The Dreamer

Written by - Richard Maver

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