The Tallest Man On Earth touched down in DC for two nights of sold outs shows at DC’s Lincoln Theatre on May 31 and June 1. A music journalist friend of mine who was set to see him perform the following day in New York asked me what to expect of the show. I told him that I couldn’t remember seeing an artist so dialed in for the duration of a performance.
Live artists land between poles of tracing their recordings with precision and extremely remixing through musical curveballs and stage fueled passion. With The Tallest Man On Earth, I was struck by how moment by moment I wasn’t sure which edge he was going to veer towards. At times he wowed with his pinpoint fretwork that mirrored what he’s put to tape, but in the very next second he might throw us for a loop by stopping playing and freezing just to mess with one of the concert photographers (which is something he hilariously did throughout the show). The way he vacillated between these sides demonstrated the extreme presentness of his performance.
The Tallest Man, nee Kristian Matsson, quilted together a show of various fabrics. Sometimes his guitar worked alone, becoming a loom of gorgeous fingerpicking like with “Weather of a Killing Kind”. Other times the whittled bark of Matsson’s guitar and voice were ornamented with pieces like French horn and violin such as on the striding “Fields of Our Home”. Then there were occasions where The Tallest Man On Earth seemed to have transformed from solo, acoustic act to full on rock band with the bluesy punch of encore highlight “The Dreamer”.
With his latest LP, Dark Bird is Home, less than a month old and a bevy of sold out dates, The Tallest Man On Earth is somehow still growing in stature. The people fortunate enough to catch Matsson at one of these concerts watches more than a The Tallest Man On Earth show. They see The Tallest Man On Earth playing the topography of that particular set list with the weather on that particular night in the zeitgeist of that particular year in vibe of that particular city with the acoustic climate at that particular venue, which is what live music is all about.