With two sold out shows it was no surprise that within half an hour of doors opening at the Corner Hotel on Tuesday night, there was already an eager crowd waiting patiently at the front of the stage for Kristian Matsson aka The Tallest Man on Earth to grace us with his presence.
As the room started to fill Stevie Nicks’ voice was slowly faded out as Old Man River came on stage. For those who had seen the band before there was a slight look of confusion as it was only front man Ohad Rein and his guitar that appeared. Starting his set with a stripped back version of 2004 hit ‘Sunshine’ the crowd quieted down with a few head bops here and there. The crowd was attentive, but not too rowdy. Ohad decided to joke around comparing religion to a penis, after this the crowd became more energetic, even getting into a good old call and return. A slow start, but after his cover of The Flaming Lips ‘Do You Realize’ the crowd was on Old Man River’s side and even more amped up for the young Swede to take the stage.
The lights faded to black as dramatic music that one would only assume was in Swedish boomed over the speakers. The crowd was silenced and Kristian walked on stage with his guitar and got straight into the opening track ‘I Won’t Be Found’ off his 2008 debut album Shallow Grave. To most of the crowd it became apparent quite fast that Kristian’s stage name did not in fact describe his appearance. But nobody really cared what he looked like (apart from one girl who confessed to being in love with his chin); on stage Kristian seems like the tallest man on earth.
The way one small, yet extremely handsome man can captivate an audience as he stands there with no elaborate lighting or costumes, just him, his guitar, and his incredibly unique voice. The raw emotion that he evokes when he sings, the rustiness of his voice is what makes it so perfectly beautiful. The crowd seemed to know every lyric and didn’t hesitate to act as back up singers especially to ‘The Gardener’ and ‘King of Spain’, which Kristian didn’t seem to mind at all. At one moment though, the crowd was brought back to silence, as Kristian’s lady joined him on stage for ‘Thrown Right At Me’ off EP Sometimes The Blues Is Just A Passing Bird. Such an intimate moment for the pair, it seemed as though the room melted away around them. No doubt everyone in the room had shivers, being part of a moment that one couldn’t help but feel like they were intruding on but really did not want to look away.
A beautiful cover of Jackson Browne’s ‘These Days’ ended the set, with Kristian saying it was a “real song” not one he wrote. Whether he said this out of humility, cynicism or just not realising how truly great his music is the crowd didn’t care, as long as he writes some more songs and comes back to Melbourne sometime soon everyone will be happy.
– Stefanie Miltiadou