November 24, 2010 – On a chilly London evening there is something comforting about just sitting and watching a guy and his guitar. This particular evening, Kristian Matsson, aka The Tallest Man on Earth, played to a capacity Electric Ballroom, located in the heart of Camden Town. The venue is a modest size and very historical, playing a large role in the early UK punk scene. It is quite interesting going to shows here where you know such influential bands have had their beginnings. As usual in London, everybody cues up politely and the show starts early.
Opening on the current tour is Idiot Wind, the stage name of Amanda Bergman, also from Sweden. She possesses an extremely raspy yet somehow angelic voice backed only by her playing what seemed to be a vintage Rhodes piano. Her music is simple and moody, but at the same time manages to be very emotional. She played for just a short while, as she has only a released a few songs on her brief EP. It will be interesting to watch her career progress, as she is quite compelling to watch, and being linked romantically to Kristian can’t hurt as well.
The Tallest Man on Earth took to the stage alone as well with an array of guitars. You know what you’re going to get with him: distinct vocals, sad songs, and complex guitar playing. He certainly didn’t disappoint on all three counts. From a song perspective, we were treated to an even selection of his career, spanning his two albums, Shallow Grave and The Wild Hunt, along with his latest EP, Sometimes the Blues Is Just a Passing Bird. Tunes such as ‘King of Spain’, ‘Love Is All’ and ‘I Won’t Be Found’ essentially became sing-alongs which he didn’t seem to mind. On the more guitar intricate songs such as ‘Where Do My Bluebirds Fly’ you can witness how masterful he is on this instrument. The physical space as well lent itself nicely to his heavy use of echo and reverb.
In-between songs, from where I was I could barely make out what he was saying except “thanks London.” Although he did speak about his constant comparison to Dylan, which he said makes it easier for him to rip off other artists as everybody is so focused on the one obvious influence. He didn’t seem too concerned with talking about his songs, which was refreshing.
A few highlights were the piano version of ‘Like the Wheel’ as well as a duet with Amanda Bergman, which he has been closing with on the current tour. They sing ‘Thrown Right at Me’ off the latest EP, which can only be described as adorable. Into the same microphone as close together as possible, as if no one else is in the room, they sing to each other “you’re so beautiful now.” There clearly is some chemistry here.