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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Image by Kaitlin Scott

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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