Tallest Man On Earth @ Somerville Theater 10.1.10
by Aidan Rush (Music Industry), published October 5th 2010
photos by Jean-Paul DiSciscio
For a man known by his fans as the Tallest Man On Earth, Kristian Matsson still has some room to grow- Physically, that is. Musically, this Swede of small stature is nothing short of remarkable both on his recordings and in person, a notion that was adequately displayed this past Friday night in Davis Square.
Summer’s last hot breath expired earlier in the week and was eventually overcome on Friday with what will inevitably be the first of many Boston rainy spells. After an opening set performed by S. Carey seemingly customized to fit the showering skies above, Mattson briskly walked onto the stage, his equipment consisting of nothing more than five guitars, a flannel shirt, skinny jeans and boots of Spanish-sounding leather, the combination of which resulted in the perfect visual display for his timeless finger-picking brand of folk music.
Throughout the set, Matsson took on the demeanor of an energetic child; smiling, engaging the audience directly through animated storytelling and eye contact, and contagiously affirming life. The guy couldn’t stay seated in his chair for an entire song. From the somber ‘Drying of the Lawns’ to the upbeat Dylan-esque ‘King of Spain,’ (Matsson will never be able to escape comparisons to Dylan, especially if nods like this one continue) each piece was played with the same passion it was written with, a feat many musicians can’t claim at the end of a long tour. And this effort was noticed and well received by everyone in attendance; The space was so quiet during each song you could hear noise from the neighboring movie theater. Also similar to his respective albums, Matsson’s vocals were mixed louder than the guitars, perhaps because he’s deliberately emphasizing his poetry over the music. As the theater warmed up, so did Matsson’s personality, changing from sparse speech to full-on conversations in Swedish to select members of the audience as the night wore on (surprise number 2: not only is the tallest man on earth short in actuality, but his speaking voice is a low husky rasp).
The evening was rounded out with a beefy encore of three songs, a multitude of bows, and a well-deserved standing ovation from a sell out crowd. If that’s any indication to the footprint he left on this side of the Atlantic, he’ll be playing venues much larger than the Somerville Theater upon his return.