LIVE REVIEW: The Tallest Man on Earth, Julie Byrne @ Sage Gateshead (04.11.19) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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From my own personal perspective, Kirstian Matsson’s first ever visit to the North East has probably come eight or nine years too late. That’s not intended as a slight against his recent full-band efforts, but for me the real magic lies in formative collections Shallow Grave and The Wild Hunt; a pair of truly excellent records in which the Swede excelled in the guise of solo singer-songwriter.

Nevertheless, tonight’s show is one packed with surprises. The first is that it takes place in Hall One. Evidently I’ve spent the past decade residing beneath a rock – I’d no idea he’d grown so popular! More pertinent, however, is that Matsson once again takes to the stage as a solo performer, and airs a healthy selection of early favourites alongside stripped offerings from recent outing I Love You, It’s A Fever Dream.

It’s an oddly extravagant show – in stark contrast to a plaintive, alluring support slot from New Yorker Julie Byrne – and at times Matsson’s entertainer’s instinct and jack-in-the-box persona can overstep their mark. I Won’t Be Found and Burden of Tomorrow, for instance, could certainly do without the histrionics, yet equally these standouts emphasise that it’s accomplished writing – not garish energy – which has elevated The Tallest Man on Earth above his peers.

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