It was an oddly introspective Kristian Matsson who showed up on stage at Vicar St on Wednesday evening. The Swede, whose diminutive figure belies his Tallest Man… moniker, was in a very open and forthcoming mood, offering up numerous stark and emotionally honest moments. He also played some songs, too.
Matsson has been touring consistently for the best part of a year and a half and Dublin was the very last pin in his map. He spent the night before the gig in Whelan’s, which was the scene of his previous performance in this town, and spoke about the old place with reverential enthusiasm. Not only that, Matsson made a point of explaining why he cancelled his scheduled performance at last year’s Electric Picnic, citing a breakdown caused by his incessant touring schedule. “It takes so much for me to cancel a show,” he said, emphasising his apology further.
But to suggest that this was a night where a gloomy singer-songwriter bared his soul for the audience is hugely wide of the mark, more so that those in attendance were witness to some sort of catharsis, the kind that can only come when you reach the end of a grueling tour. Matsson was really in a playful mood. He bookended the show by jumping into the crowd and hugging those in the front row and danced around on stage as if his limbs were being controlled by an invisible puppeteer stationed in the lighting rig above.
‘I Won’t Be Found’, the first song on his debut record, was also the first song played and served pretty well as a taste of how the next 90 minutes would go. Each song is some variation of an intricate, finger-picked, acoustic melody played by any one of the array of guitars laid out to the Tallest Man’s right. With a gravelly voice just north of Dylan (admittedly a lazy comparison to make, but it’s true nonetheless) Matsson rarely deviated from the established solo/acoustic routine, which can only work if you’re a really, really good musician which, fortunately, Matsson is. ‘Love Is All’, ‘The Gardener’ and ‘The Drying of the Lawns’, as well as new song ‘There’s No Leaving Now’, all contained much of the same elements but are worlds apart in terms of theme, tempo and rhythm.
As the gig reached its eventual end Matsson announced that this will be his last live performance for a while, to which the crowd replied with inevitable objection. “No, no. It’s a good thing!” he replied. “There’ll be a new album. Besides, I’m sick of singing about gardeners, sparrows and kings of Spain anyway.”
Photos: Damien McGlynn
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