Filed under: gigs | Tags: bardens boudoir, holly throsby, the tallest man on earth, this frontier needs heroes
I’d only got into The Tallest Man On Earth (TTMOE from now on out of sheer laziness) a few months before this gig after a few friends had been talking about how much they were looking forward to the show. So I took a bit of a punt and got myself a ticket to the show and a copy of his album from last year “Shallow Graves” which has subsequently become one of my most played albums since I first got it as I fell in love with it almost immediately; the brilliant lyrics sung with a slightly different voice and amazing guitarwork to go with it. As such, I’d been looking forward to the show and was very pleased with the decision to have got a ticket to see him on his first UK tour.
Barden’s Boudoir, on Stoke Newington Road, was yet another little venue I’d yet to frequent. After making the trip up North from London Bridge (after a slight kerfuffle with the bus driver closing the doors on me after my friend had already jumped off) we got to the venue via the pub and the first 30 minutes of the England match. Now Barden’s Boudoir wasn’t the most conspicuous of venues with just the door to the venue coming off the road. However, we finally found it and made our way in.
Now the inside of the venue itself was peculiar to say the least and incorporated possibly the worst layout of any venue I’ve been to with the stage not at one end of the venue but was in the middle and pressed up against one of the walls meaning that very few people could actually stand in front of the stage and had to instead stand around the sides. This worked on one level as it meant the stage was surrounded with people but just felt strange. The venue was also one of the darkest I’ve ever been to and for ‘atmosphere’ I’m sure some of the halogen lights in the ceiling just had bits of coloured plastic covering them.
Anyhoo, after ariving a little bit late, we got there part way through the first support act, Holly Throsby. Sadly, with the stage layout and my being ‘vertically challenged’ I could see sweet FA of what was actually going on on stage (and as such got no pics) but her music was rather wonderful with gentle, minimalist, finger picked guitars underlying some beautiful, fragile vocals and all this was backed up with some low key drums/accordian/xylophones. I’d never heard of her before and was rather impressed but this was sadly spoilt by the fact that almost three quarters of the crowd talked the way through the entire set. This was a real shame as, from what I heard, it was a great little opening set but the talking spoilt it for those of us trying to listen to it but also for Holly herself.
After her set, and a quick change of place in the crowd from myself, the second support band took to the stage in the form of This Frontier Needs Heroes, a brother and sister act from the States. They had a very simple sound with just an acoustic guitar, a bit of hand clapping and some nice vocals and it all started out quite nicely and promising. After two or three songs, however, I suddenly realised that all the songs sounded pretty much the same and were all a little bit boring. The extended chats between tracks also got a little tedious and a little bit sickly and disturbing for a brother/sister act.
After all this though, the main act of TTMOE (otherwise known as Kristian Matsson) took to the stage to raptuous applause before receving silence from the crowd (at last!) as he launched into his first number. Despite all the problems with the venue, it’s fair to say that on the night, Kristian owned it. Bar a few people, the crowd could only stand there mesmerised by the performance and it’s easy to see why.
TTMOE was another of the guitarists I’ve seen over the last six months where his pure technical ability as a guitarist completely blew me away as he made playing look so so easy. At times, thanks to the tunings he used, he even managed to play one handed and all of this while singing in his rather distinct voice which, it should be said, sounded much better live than on any of his records. He also had a very unusual way of performing in that he would seemingly sing to just person in the crowd as he would make eye contact with you and carry on performing. He would also play up to anyone with a camera occasionally ‘posing’ for them as he carried on playing.
The setlist itself was a good mix of ‘older’ songs from his original EP, such as ‘It Will Follow The Rain’ and songs of his album such as my favourites ‘Where Do My Bluebirds Fly?’, ‘The Sparrow And The Medicine’ and (what turned out to be the crowd singalong) ‘The Gardener’ and on top of this, there were a few new tracks (or ones I didn’t recognise anyway!).
I thought this was an incredible set as I’ve not seen a solo artist have a crowd hooked quite like Kristian did and there really isn’t a better word to describe the set than mesmerising. It was a shame the supports were spoilt/weren’t great and that the venue itself wasn’t all that good but TTMOE himself definitely made it all worth it in the end. I can only hope that he comes back soon!
The Tallest Man On Earth – The Gardener (live)
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