The Tallest Man On Earth | 07.30.15

TTMOE 75The band put on an excellent show that will rank very high on the end-of-the-year list for best gigs.





The Tallest Man On Earth (TTMOE) delivered an outstanding performance for the folks in St. Louis on July 30th at The Pageant. Mostly known for acoustic-driven songs with only leader Kristian Matsson and his guitar, we were instead treated to the full band. Songs from the new album Dark Bird Is Home were the most played. Unlike previous works, Dark Bird Is Home is more experimental, with most songs featuring the full band. There was some anxiety for me going into this show (as well as listening to the latest album) since TTMOE’s previous three releases haven’t featured anything other than Matsson alone. Thankfully, my anxiety was relieved, as the band was an extremely cohesive unit that sounded great all night.

I was warned ahead of time by a friend that Matsson is a “prancer” on stage. He is one continuously moving ball of energy. Throughout the 90-minute set, he never stopped moving, other than the couple times where he sat down, but even then he was dancing in his chair as he played. Surprisingly, none of his dancing interfered with his playing or singing; in fact, it accentuated it. He would add an extra exaggerated step when he was trying to add emphasis to a particular chord, and the fans would dance around when he was a bit more jovial. He really was exhilarating to watch, and he may be one of the most charismatic front men I’ve seen in a long time. He puts himself completely out there in his performance and with his vocals. And kudos to the Pageant for setting things up for him to have plenty of room to fly around on stage.

The setlist comprised mostly of songs from the latest release. However, Matsson was sure to add a few of his more well-traveled cuts from his previous three albums, which were greeted enthusiastically by the crowd. In particular, “Love Is All” from 2010’s The Wild Hunt was welcomed with a robust round of cheers. The only track that seemed to fall a little flat, disappointingly, was the title track from The Wild Hunt. In the studio version, it’s only Matsson performing, but the full band performed it live. It’s not that it didn’t work as a whole, it’s just that the full band treatment didn’t really add anything to the song that is already a joyful and serene piece. They have been known to do some interesting cover songs as well, with Paul Simon’s “Graceland” being a favorite choice. Sadly, we didn’t get to hear that live, but for me it would have been icing on the cake. Overall, TTMOE put on an excellent show that will rank very high on the end-of-the-year list for best gigs.

To talk about how the show opened, things got started with Canadian folk singer Basia Bulat. Immediately, I realized I had the wrong impression of her. Whatever I expecting was totally blown away by reality. She has an amazingly powerful voice that she backs up with tender and downright heart-wrenching lyrics. She is a multi-instrumentalist, switching off between a ukulele, acoustic guitar, and an autoharp. She is effervescent on stage, and her innocent giddiness added to her charm. I would love to see her perform again. | Michael Koehler

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