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The Tallest Man On Earth - Hackney Empire, London - 3rd July 2012 (Live Review)

Wednesday, 11 July 2012 Written by Ben Bland
The Tallest Man On Earth - Hackney Empire, London - 3rd July 2012 (Live Review)

In a way itís a shame that The Tallest Man on Earth (real name Kristian Matsson for the uninitiated) chose Hackney Empire to be the venue for his first UK performance following the release of his third album, the generally well received 'Thereís No Leaving Now'. Donít get me wrong, the Empire is a gorgeous building; however such grandiose surroundings only serve to highlight the flaws in Matssonís performance rather than accentuating his strong points.

ImageA major issue with this show is sadly the choice of support. Amanda Bergman, performing under the name Idiot Wind, is a shy performer to say the least. She barely looks at the audience, not even acknowledging requests to reveal her name. As Matssonís wife it is no surprise to see her on the bill but it is rather surprising to see someone with such a lack of stage presence take to the Empireís stage. Her songs, gently rambling piano ballads, are melodically promising but ultimately uninvolving. Sheís not bad, just distinctly underwhelming.

Some would say that an unexciting support act leaves the stage open for the headliner triumph but that is not always the case. Sometimes such a turn of events leaves the rest of the evening playing catch up and so the case proves tonight. Excellent though The Tallest Man on Earthís actual performance is, he is beginning to suffer from being on his own all the time. Some of the gaps between songs are charming, others are tedious. Few singer-songwriters have the character to completely enrapture an entire audience on stage for an hour and twenty minutes. Matsson gives it a good go and, whilst his die hard supporters are clearly bewitched by his very presence, his rather earnest persona starts to become wearisome by the end of the evening.

This takes some of the shine off what should be a triumphant gig. The likes of '1904', 'I Wonít be Found' and 'King of Spain' are clear highlights of a set that emphasises Matssonís technical ability. Most impressive of all is his tender rendition of new album title track 'Thereís No Leaving Now', which sees him switch from guitar to piano with ease and no lack of additional emotional carnage. However by the time he eagerly trots back out for his encore the minutes are rather crawling by. Bergmanís reappearance for a soppy duet at the end may win points with those that see Matsson as something of a heartthrob but itís just a bit silly for the rest of us.

By being The Tallest Man on Earth, Matsson should be able to fill venues with his charismatic performance style. If you are a huge fan of the man then his live performances will not disappoint. More casual onlookers should beware. Bigger venues, in the mind of this reviewer, do not necessarily suit Matssonís one man troubadour style.

'Thereís No Leaving Now' is out now via Dead Oceans, check out Stereoboard's review here. The Tallest Man on Earth plays at Green Man Festival and will also be returning to the UK for a tour in October.

The Tallest Man On Earth UK & Ireland Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon October 22nd 2012 - The Forum, London
Tue October 23rd 2012 - Colston Hall, Bristol
Sat October 27th 2012 - HMV Picture House, Edinburgh
Sun October 28th 2012 - HMV Ritz, Manchester
Mon October 29th 2012 - St Bartholomews Church, Brighton

Click Here to Compare & Buy The Tallest Man On Earth Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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