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The Tallest Man On Earth brought frenetic energy to his troubadour ballads at Melbourne Recital Centre

The stage name The Tallest Man on Earth is like a private joke between the performer and his fans. At 1.7 metres tall Kristian Matsson wasn’t even the tallest man on stage, but everything else about him, from his voice to his stage presence, was huge.
 
Four years from his last stint in Australia, The Tallest Man on Earth is still undoubtedly one of the most exciting and engaging guitar acts currently performing. Indeed, if you only knew The Tallest Man on Earth from his albums, it might be hard to understand how his brand of quiet indie/folk has brought him enough of a following to fill out such a venue two nights in a row.
 
On stage he was a force of nature, throwing himself around with spontaneous abandon and using the huge emotional range of his voice to whisper and yelp old songs back to life. On record Matsson can stray into bland pastoralism but in a live setting every song is like a joyful new discovery for the artist and his audience.
 
The night was opened by Gordi, a Sydney based pop/folk artist who’s been steadily collecting local acclaim. Her folk inflected soundscapes were the perfect counterpoint to the kinetic guitar work of the main act, as well as being terrific in their own right.
 
The Tallest Man on Earth took a running jump onto the stage, setting the tone for the rest of the night. He played a set list spanning his entire career, dancing around the stage and throwing his guitar picks around. Matsson’s been touring with a four-piece band to flesh out his more complex songs live and they added a wonderful new layer to his sound.
 
The extended guitar/lap steel jam on Revelation Blues and the full band harmonies on Like the Wheel show how they manage to enrich the material without diminishing its immediacy. The band were kept safely in the background in case anyone forgot why they came. Matsson’s carnival barker/village eccentric stage persona dominated the crowd’s attention and brought an irrepressible sense of fun to his songs and stage patter.
 
Aside from an aimless rant about Trump and a broken string, the night was pure choreographed joy from beginning to end. 
 
By Tiernan Morrison
 
Highlight: A stark, unaccompanied Love is All.
Lowlight: The Trump rant (we’re going to be hearing a lot of these from touring bands huh?).
Crowd Favourite: King of Spain.