• Self-proclaimed Offspring of Dylan and Clapton Made Daddies Proud

    Nov 14 2010, 10:43

    Sat 13 Nov, Köln – The Tallest Man on Earth, Idiot Wind

    A modest, self-deprecating, occasionally sheepish guy during the song breaks, Kristian Matsson assumed the form of a ferocious, stage-stomping folk God for his musical numbers. And what numbers they were! For a set comprised solely of him and a single guitar (with the exception of "Like The Wheel" and the gorgeous encore, "Kids On The Run", for which he tackled the piano instead), the show was surprisingly dynamic and captivating throughout. Of course, that booming voice probably did the heavy-lifting here, but his awkward/cool stage antics had their share too.

    Twitching around the stage during the strum-heavy numbers and tenderly phrasing his vocals during the more intimate ones, this guy certainly knows how to put on a show. And, as last night proved, to have an absolute command of said show. He spent a lot of time standing at the edge of the stage, staring right into the eyes of his audience, as if daring them not to enjoy themselves. Even the many, many guitar-tuning breaks he took were rendered, somehow, entertaining. "Eric Claption!" one guy inexplicably shouted during one of these breaks, to which he responded, "What about him? He is kind of a douche bag, don't you think? But he's a great guy. He's my dad, you know? And Bob Dylan's my mom." Charming.

    The main course of the night though, was of course, the musical numbers. We all know how great/illuminating/soul-stirring/etc. his recorded songs can be. But how do they hold up in a live setting? In a word: magical. That voice, folks. That scratchy, expressive, commanding voice. If you think it's great on record, wait till you hear it live. It can blow the soul out of your body. No kidding. This being a live setting, he wisely added liberal doses of improvisation to the songs, like stretching the ending of "King Of Spain" ("Sorry about that, I know it doesn't usually goes out like that, I just forgot to stop") and interpolating Sade's "By Your Side" into "You're Going Back" ("Now I'm gonna show you where I stole this song from"). The crowd's favorite though, was arguably "The Gardener" ("Now I will play you a song about flowers. And puppies. And flying ponies"), and when the audience broke into a collective sing-along during the quieter parts of the song, he broke a smile. Seemingly caught off guard, yet delighted. Again, charming.

    The 15-song set, plus 3 encores (including a personal favorite of mine, "The Dreamer"), clocked in at a little more than 90 minutes, but felt more like 15. A wildly uproarious success, if I do say so myself. Less successful though, was the opening act, Amanda Bergman (aka Idiot Wind). She possesses an absolutely gorgeous, smoky tone to her voice (which added a very nice twist to the headliner's "Thrown At Me"), yes, but her songs barely offered any variations, be it in tempo, mood, or her delivery. The audience grew visibly restless after the third or fourth song, and alas, she failed to recapture their attention for the rest of her 8-song set. But the girl's got talent, that's for sure. She just needs better songs.