The Tallest Man on Earth – Paradiso – 18.05.2011

It wasn’t so much the tallest man on earth as the highest man on earth this evening at the Paradiso. It seems Christian Matson made the most of his day in Amsterdam before performing to a packed Grote Zaal. Fortunately it didn’t seem to affect the quality of the musical performance adversely; he was certainly more chatty than the last time we saw him in Amsterdam, but he worked his way with confidence through a really good set drawn from both albums.

It can’t be easy commanding the attention of a full Paradiso with just your voice and a guitar. But he made light work of it as he filled the room with sound (when the inevitable Dutch chatter died down), stalking around the stage dinosaur-like and singing with gusto. He has tons of charisma and whatever he was smoking earlier had filled him with lots of love. (He was particularly excited about the new Bon Iver album, which apparently leaked on the web today.)

We also got some insight into what must I guess must be a difficult process of working out where he should go next. He’s not quite a one-trick pony, but after two albums there’s probably not much more he can squeeze out of the Dylanesque folky thing without sounding repetitive. So it was that he was joined by a drummer and bassist (from his support act, Francis) for three songs. One of the three was the popular “hit” King of Spain, which kind of worked with the drums tapping a flamenco-ish beat. The other two – new to me – were more of  a mixed bag. A song with the chorus “I won’t leave alone” was kind of bluesy and worked reasonably well; the other, a fairly unremarkable piano ballad, could have been anyone and was neither tall nor earthy. It’ll be really interesting to see what direction his next collection of recordings takes. (It occurred to me that, with the electric guitar, drums and bass, they sounded a lot like The Magic Numbers minus the female harmonies.)

He got a great ovation at the end and couldn’t really avoid coming back for an encore. The final song of the main set was the cute one on which his fiancee sings harmonies. The final song of his encore was Kids on the Run played on the banjo, which is apparently how it was written. And after another huge and heartfelt cheer he stalked off into the night.

The aforementioned Francis weren’t bad. A female lead vocalist who sounded a bit like the singer from Beach House had plenty of energy and led them through some fairly standard, but pleasant pop rock tunes. The last couple of songs were definitely the best, and they got a good response from a crowd that had been typically – and rudely – noisy throughout their set.