Posted in music | pictures on June 21, 2012

words and photos by Dominick Mastrangelo

The Tallest Man on Earth at Town Hall - 6/20/12
The Tallest Man on Earth

In December of 2008 I ventured to Town Hall to cover Bon Iver. At the time, For Emma... had blown up over the summer and Justin Vernon and company were holding down two dates a stone's throw from Times Square. Opening for them was Kristian Matsson, The Tallest Man on Earth.

When you cover show after show the opening acts tend to run together. A great deal are forgettable, a bunch impress and you feel they're on to something but not quite there. And then there are those few that stay with you. Lykke Li opening for El Perro Del Mar, Fleet Foxes opening for Blitzen Trapper and Tune-Yards opening for Dirty Projectors are the easiest ones for me.

And then there's Kristian Matsson.

His opening set to a half-filled Town Hall had me riveted. He owned every piece of that stage, his energy and musicianship caught the attention of everyone who had the good sense to arrive early.

On June 19th and 20th, Matsson returned to Town Hall but this time as the headliner. Not so much a triumphant return as a deserved one for arguably the most talented singer-songwriter to come along in the past five years. Nobody performing today can match his output of three flawless full lengths and an EP in that time.

Matsson was flanked by a line of guitars to his right and a grand piano to his left, but everything else was very much the same as that winter night a few years back. And the sold out crowds were his. Shunning the static singer-songwriter schtick, Matsson was at ease as he stalked the stage, buzzing from one end to the other, leaning out over the crowd or staring up into the balcony as he strummed his guitar in between verses. The crowd clapped rhythmically along at the start of "King of Spain" and gave an appreciative applause as the opening strains of "Where Do My Bluebird Fly?" echoed out into the hall.

Matsson's voice was at its plaintive, pleading best on the gorgeous piano ballad (and title of his new record), "There's No Leaving Now," nearly cracking as he shouted the last refrain, "Your fear of the leading light / if they are with you and your heart won't fail." It was the night's most affecting moment. Despite his leanings toward the guitar, the man can write a stirring piano song and it would be great to hear more of them as he continues to evolve his sound, as he does on the new record.

During the encore Matsson played a piano rendition on the night's penultimate song "The Dreamer." And as the show reached its conclusion Amanda Bergman, Matsson's wife, came out to sing on "Thrown Right At Me," both of them inches away from each other as they sang. She departed before the song ended leaving Matsson to soak in the second standing ovation of the night.

Strand of Oaks opened both nights at Town Hall. We posted pictures from the first night HERE. More pictures from last night, the second, below...

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Strand of Oaks

Strand of Oaks

Strand of Oaks

Strand of Oaks

Strand of Oaks

Strand of Oaks

Strand of Oaks

Strand of Oaks

Strand of Oaks

Strand of Oaks

Strand of Oaks

Strand of Oaks

Strand of Oaks

Strand of Oaks

Strand of Oaks

Strand of Oaks

Strand of Oaks

Strand of Oaks

Strand of Oaks

Strand of Oaks

The Tallest Man on Earth

The Tallest Man on Earth

The Tallest Man on Earth

The Tallest Man on Earth

The Tallest Man on Earth

The Tallest Man on Earth

The Tallest Man on Earth

The Tallest Man on Earth

The Tallest Man on Earth

The Tallest Man on Earth

The Tallest Man on Earth

The Tallest Man on Earth

The Tallest Man on Earth

The Tallest Man on Earth

The Tallest Man on Earth

The Tallest Man on Earth

The Tallest Man on Earth

The Tallest Man on Earth

The Tallest Man on Earth

The Tallest Man on Earth

The Tallest Man on Earth

The Tallest Man on Earth

The Tallest Man on Earth

The Tallest Man on Earth

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Comments (22)

did not know that was his wife! how sweet. she has a lovely voice.

the show was incredible. I only wish the crowd had been a little better, the chattering around me almost ruined it.

Posted by Anonymous | June 21, 2012 2:27 PM

a couple of real assholes in the crowd, but otherwise just about a perfect night.

Posted by Anonymous | June 21, 2012 2:27 PM

what is he rubbing it in with his tall hair?! Soon he will wear heels! Come on man...we get it you are tall. Stop being a like that!

Posted by Anonymous | June 21, 2012 2:46 PM

"RIDICULOUS" fuck that guy in the crowd

Posted by Anonymous | June 21, 2012 3:46 PM

@3:46 pretty sure he was on drugs. he was sitting a few rows in front of me. so terrible obnoxious.

Posted by Anonymous | June 21, 2012 3:59 PM

i will never understand (beyond the obvious desire for attention) the people who scream during portions of songs, especially music on the quieter side. you paid to see the musician play. shut the fuck up already.

Posted by Anonymous | June 21, 2012 4:00 PM

I saw Ray LaMontagne at Beacon Theatre. A guy was screaming out repeatedly during the first song. He was removed before the second song. This should be an established policy.

Posted by Anonymous | June 21, 2012 4:05 PM

@4:05 agree! they were certainly policing the cell phones, why not the assholes? I almost punched him myself.

Posted by Anonymous | June 21, 2012 4:07 PM

shortest man on talent

Posted by Anonymous | June 21, 2012 4:10 PM

that would be great. town hall is a nice venue i would love for idiots to get warned then removed.

Posted by Anonymous | June 21, 2012 4:10 PM

To the terribly intoxicated and/or incredibly vapid man who yelled "Ridiculous!" just before the last chord of nearly every song: I will remember the stunning performance long after I've forgotten your frat stunt.

Posted by Anonymous | June 21, 2012 4:42 PM

Tallest girl on earth, shortest skirt on earth...boi-oi-oiinnggggg!

Posted by Anonymous | June 21, 2012 5:27 PM

A miracle that this gremlin landed a wife. Love the music, but better left unseen.

Posted by Anonymous | June 21, 2012 6:19 PM

What is the point of playing two shows if he is going to do the standing solo accoustic things both nights? Mix it up or play one show. The crowd does not need to see that same gimmick two nights in a row.

Posted by Anonymous | June 21, 2012 6:24 PM

I was at the show and loved it. Any chance you got pictures before the encore?? I was the lucky dude he reached out to and would love to buy a picture of it!

Posted by Efren | June 21, 2012 7:11 PM

you kiddin' me? kristian is putting some of the best, original, commanding music out there today. who cares if he does a similar thing 2 nights in a row? 'gimmick'? get in touch.

Posted by rick | June 21, 2012 11:39 PM

i was there in the back row. i fell asleep for a second during this show, actually happened.

Posted by Anonymous | June 22, 2012 2:37 AM

@6:24, Um because the first show sold out? So he added a second so more people would get to see it? Why go both nights?

Posted by Anonymous | June 22, 2012 10:19 AM

Can't believe he did the same thing both nights . . . one night with a full band would have been nice, one night acoustic. No need to repeat a concert.

Posted by Anonymous | June 22, 2012 11:07 AM

The ipods would play a different set every night -- 1000s of track to choose from.

Posted by Anonymous | June 22, 2012 11:43 AM

Are people finally over this dude's shtick? He writes horrible, horrible lyrics.

Posted by Anonymous | June 22, 2012 3:17 PM

I really like this.

Posted by jordon | July 28, 2013 4:27 PM

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