[LIVE REVIEW] The Tallest Man On Earth @ KOKO
I don't tend to go to a lot of shows in big venues any more. Not just because I'm constantly on a little quest to find emerging artists and unknown bands playing in tiny pubs, but also because I have grown increasingly tired of spending the entire concert on my tip toes weaving around tall men (maybe I'm getting old). On this particular evening I was the one incredibly short girl peering desperately over shoulders in the hopes of seeing one incredibly short man.
Despite his stature, Kristian Matsson has an incredibly big stage presence. The last time I'd seen him, in London about 5 years ago, even from my terrible seat in the rafters I was able to feel him empower every note of every song, despite the fact it was simply him and his guitar completely dwarfed on the huge state. This time, he was accompanied by a full band, and although the addition of these instruments did make all of his songs (particularly the style of his most recent album) fuller, more orchestral and perhaps better suited to this 1,500 + theatre venue, it really still is his stripped back performances that hit home for me.
As the band left the stage about half way through the concert, leaving Matsson alone in the spotlight with an acoustic guitar, the crowd shushed, and the whole venue froze to give him their undivided attention. As the first few chords of "Love Is All" rang out, the audience erupted with cheers, and an overwhelming urge to burst in to tears welled up inside of me. There is something particularly emotional and completely magical about hearing one of your favourite songs performed live, surrounded by fellow fans swaying and thousands of voices bouncing around the inside of a grand, gold-accented theatre that holds so much history.
After several warmly welcomed solo performances of favourites like "The Gardener" and "A Lion's Heart", and an emotive piano-led rendition of Dark Bird Is Home's "Little Nowhere Towns", the band re-joined Matsson for more new material. Switching from calm and reflective to impassioned and ecstatic as quickly as he changed guitars, Matsson continued to jerk and twist behind the microphone for the remainder of the set, his short legs throwing him from one side of the stage to the other. The band stood back and lent only their harmonies to his songbird finale - a sweet and vulnerable "Like The Wheel" that left us hanging on his words "Oh my lord, why am I not strong? Like the wheel that keeps travellers travelling' on."
Click any of the photos in the gallery below to view full-size.
Photos by Jonathan Mark Terry.