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Hello one and all!
Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about the blog. Just been a bit hectic over the last few weeks and that coupled with the fact that my laptop had been deciding to rebot itself every 30 seconds meant it was a bit tricky to update TMWL.
However, everything is now sorted and it should be business as usual soon.
I still have a few writeups to do from shows over the last month (and maybe a bit more) and have a whole load of shows coming up over the next month.. including one I shall be hosting myself!
Watch this space..
A belated review, perhaps, but it is a review nonetheless!
After that last show of his in London, which I gave the title of ‘Gig of the Year’ to, it was a simple decision to make when I heard tickets were on sale for only his second UK show. After the Barden Boudoir performance, I couldn’t wait to see him again, especially as the show was to be held just a few weeks before the release of his second album, ‘The Wild Hunt’.
Bush Hall was another venue on the ever shortening list of places-I’ve-never-been-for-a-gig and after meeting up with friends for a drink, we got to the venue. And what a unique venue it is. Set out like a beautiful old ballroom, the venue seemed deceptively large to me as it felt a bit like Shepherd’s Bush Empire.. but without the different levels. In fact, it is a relatively small venue which was only made even more bizarre by the fact that it was only half full on our arrival and almost every single person there was sat on the floor (something you probably wouldn’t do at 90% of the venues I’ve been to in London), creating an unusual atmosphere before the gig had even begun.
The only support on the night came from Alessi’s Ark, a band I had not heard of but one of my campanions had seen before. They had a simple setup with just Alessi herself on acoustic guitar and vocal duties, backed up by an electric guitar/bass depending on the song. The electric guitar backing worked a lot better for me as the bass seemed to.. well, bassy, when it was being used and so overpowered the gentle guitar and vocals that Alessi herself provided. The songs themselves were all rather beautiful and the seeming naivety/bemusement that Alessi had at being there only added to the charm. Her voice was easily the focal point of the songs and were the perfect vehicle for her lyrics. A nice surprise opening to the evening.
After that, it was straight on to the main act of the night with Kristian Matsson, AKA The Tallest Man On Earth, taking to the stage to raptuous applause and opened the set with the title track off the new album, The Wild Hunt, which was accompanied by a whole load of foot stomping from the man himself and kicked the set off brilliantly.
From there on, he launched into the title track from his first album ‘Shallow Graves’ and the rest of the night was the perfect mix of songs off both albums with old favourites such as ‘I Won’t Be Found’ and ‘Honey Won’t You Let Me In’ mixed in with new tracks like ‘You’re Going Back’ and ‘Troubles Will Be Gone’. Every single song sounded great though and was played with a bizarre intensity compared to the previous show but Kristian still used the whole stage to his advantage, walking from the back of the stage to the crowd and stomping around, always returning to the microphone just in time to spit out his next lyric.
There was something different about this gig though that I just couldn’t put my finger on. Kristian seemed a lot more intense or angry than the last show and it was difficult to tell whether this was genuine or part of his act on the night. Some lyrics seemed almost a cry of despair rather than being sung while others were spat out with real venom at times. He got into a few little slanging matches with some audience members as well and seemed genuinely peeved when people talked while he tuned up between tracks. As I said, I can’t say whether this was part of the act on the night but it felt weirdly different to the last time I saw him.
Despite that, the show was still really enjoyable. The two obvious crowd favourites in ‘The Gardener’ and ‘King of Spain’ were as fun as ever and got the crowd going and almost got them singing along to the former. The set ended with a duet with one Kristian’s female friends joining him on stage which worked really well with the both of them bouncing around the stage before reuniting at the same mic for the vocals.
The one song encore of the night, which you can hear below, rounded the night off and was, supposedly, his newest song and was one I didn’t recognise, even having heard the new album. It was a beautiful downbeat number which had the crowd completely mesmerised and made a fitting finale.
Overall, The Tallest Man On Earth yet again commanded the stage brilliantly. I’ve still yet to see any artist have an audience so hooked and eating out the palm of their hand like he does. But there was something about the gig that made it slightly less enjoyable than less time. Perhaps it was the anger/torment thing he had going on, perhaps it was the dickhead who was filming the show and kept pushing me out the way the entire time or maybe it was just the setup of the stage (with the high Bush Hall stage making him slightly more detached than the Barden’s Boudoir one with the crowd on three sides of the stage) that made it like this. Whatever it was, it was still a top gig and I look forward to him returning to these shores later on in the year.
Especially as he’ll be bringing his banjo next time..
The Tallest Man On Earth – untitled new track (ive)