I, like most, was craning my neck to get a glimpse of the dandy Swede and his fellows in Koko’s sold out cranium of a venue. With shows here it’s forever a question of upper chamber or lower. Upper we can see the band; lower we can hear the band. Tips for attending a Tallest Man on Earth gig that I picked up tonight: 1) Get your place up front before he starts – not a single person will surrender their spot in the crowd once he begins. 2) Don’t say to your boyfriend, ‘I think there will be tonnes of women attending this show.’ He will ask why. 3) Expect… The expected. The Tallest Man sounded exactly what you had hoped, and anticipated, he would sound like.
Kristian Matsson sprung onto the stage with the lightness of a sparrow, and our eyes travelled with him up and down, from one crevice of his world to the other. He came with the presence of a giant despite in reality being quite small. Though starting the show with ‘Fields Of Our Home’ (the first track off his latest album ‘Dark Bird Is Home’) felt a little easy, Kristian won the crowd over with old favorites, ‘1904’ and ‘The Gardener’ which we all helped him sing a little. The surprise of his cavorting, such as when he played lying fully horizontal during ‘Revelation Blues’ and the variety of four guitar changes was, unfortunately, softened by the predictability of each note. At times, the likeness to his recordings was too uncanny. The stunning ‘riots of broken sound’ of ‘Wind and Walls’ were fragmented, but exactly as they are on the record, and ‘The Wild Hunt’s’ ‘I plan to be forgotten when I’m gone’ somehow kept couples smiling, swaying. His more sombre, often poignant lyrics failed to become more than words to melody.
Towards the end of their hour and three quarters set, Kristian paid his respects to the lighting team, who were having to wing it due to the band’s delay. But, disappointingly, he didn’t take a moment mention why exactly it had been such a ‘crazy’ day at the Calais border. It’s a shame that the refugee crisis only seemed to effect the show’s timing, not its message or tone.