The Tallest Man on Earth @ Crescent Ballroom| 9/1/12
It's not hard to find a folk singer strumming a guitar in public. Stumble into a coffee shop or look out on the street corner and you're bound to find someone doing it. Finding someone in one these spots who also happens to be a really great at it can be a more difficult task.
Once you do find that person you're bound to run into the inevitable comparisons to Bob Dylan. These comparisons are something that the Tallest Man on Earth (songwriter Kristian Mattson) is very familiar with. The Swedish born singer/songwriter has received more than his fair share of Dylan comparisons but as he demonstrated last night in front of a sold-out crowd at Crescent Ballroom, he's anything but a Dylan clone.
It's been my experience that folk music shows can be a bit dull -- enjoyable, but dull.
Matsson's performance last night, however, was a lot of fun. He's got a tremendous stage presence that makes it difficult for you not to want to watch him. During most songs he has a type of quiet intensity, hunching over his guitar, pacing from one side of the stage to the other, armed with an intent look on his face as he stares into the crowd.
You also can't help but be impressed by the raw emotion that Matsson conjures up: In the song "All Is Love," there were times were he barely performed above a whisper and then later in the song filled the entire room with just incredible raw emotion both in his voice and on his face. It was pretty stunning to watch.
For the most part Matsson's performance was pretty straightforward. He'd switch back and forth between electric or acoustic guitar and even played a few songs on the piano. While Matsson is mostly known for his guitar driven music, the piano is an instrument that has found its way into his music more and more. And while he's a pretty commanding guitarist, it was a nice change of pace to see him at the piano, especially when he took the song "The Dreamer," which differed from its electric guitar driven album take.
Matsson played a nice mix of songs that included several songs off of his most recent release There's No Leaving Now, as well as some older material. Songs off his 2010 album The Wild Hunt seemed to receive the biggest reactions of the night. Things did seem to slow down a bit towards the end of the set, but picked back up with the fan favorite song "King of Spain."
This was my first time seeing The Tallest Man on Earth live. I didn't have many expectations for the show other then Kristian Mattson standing on stage playing his guitar. While this doesn't always make for the most thrilling live show I came away from Crescent Ballroom thoroughly impressed by how entertaining one guy with a guitar can be. Judging by the crowd around me, I wasn't the only one.
Critics Notebook: Last Night: Strand of Oaks, Tallest Man on Earth at Crescent Ballroom Personal Bias: The Wild Hunt was one of my favorite albums of 2010. It also, in my opinion, contains the greatest recording of the word "fucking" on the song "You're Going Back." Seriously, it's amazing the way he sings the word "fucking." I was disappointed that wasn't in the set list. The Crowd: Mostly 20-something hipsters, but I was surprised by the number of older folks in the crowd. Random Notebook Dump: Opening band Strand of Oaks was enjoyable but also a major bummer. The music was super heavy and I wanted to just give the lead singer a hug.
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Set List To Just Grow Away Love Is All 1904 I Won't Be Found The Gardener Criminals There's No Leaving Now It Will Follow The Rain Leading Me Now Wind and Walls Like the Wheel Where Do My Bluebird Fly King of Spain Revelation Blues
Encore The Wild Hunt The Dreamer