Posted by: Cory | April 16, 2009

Review: Tallest Man on Earth @ Bowery Ballroom – 4/15

I hope you guys don’t mind, but just because I’m in New York doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop going to shows, nor does it mean I have any less inclination to review them.  In the end, we can look at this as exposure to great bands not spending a lot of time in Louisville.  That said, my first review is for the incredible Tallest Man on Earth, who recently came to Louisville with Bon Iver.

Quite simply, the Tallest Man on Earth has an impossible voice.  Looking a bit like Production Simple’s Joe Argabrite, Kristian Matsson’s “Tallest Man” status must surely come from his voice because no mere human should be able to sound like this (that, and it clearly does not come from his height). Although I was late to the game on TMOE, his debut Shallow Grave was amongst the best albums of 2008. Having fallen in love with the Dylanesque croons of Shallow Grave, I was beyond pleasantly surprised to find that live, it gives way to a penetrating growl of emotion that made the audience feel that Matsson was reliving each moment and truly experiencing every word as it was spoke.

Before coming on, the stage was completely cleared from Red Cortez’s surprising and impressive set that reminded me a little too much of what the Black Crowes might sound like if they were just getting started today. At first I feared that Matsson might have taken cues from fellow Swede Jose Gonzlaez when his chair was pushed midway back on the stage. During Gonzalez’s set, this distance made for a very detached performance and there might as well have been a large pit filled with bouncers between the crowd and the performer. Fortunately, this was hardly the case because Matsson spent no more than a few seconds at a time sitting and it was more of a prop than anything. Instead, Matsson spent most of his time bouncing around stage in a way that was equally awkward and nonchalant/cool. Just as nonchalant, he almost seamlessly brushed aside a defective cable. During This Wind, the cable died, and instantly he went back towards his chair, comedically hushing the crowd, to finish the song acoustic. Anyone having any shred of doubt that this man is a performer up to this point surely had all such doubts cast aside, because even with as many people packed into the Bowery as there were, Matsson was the only thing that could be heard.

In the end, it was a beautiful performance for a beautiful night, and it was fantastic to see an artist when even on the bill with Bon Iver didn’t manage to sell out, and those in attendance were excessively rude, could come to the Bowery with just a guitar and pack the house ad keep them quiet and attentive.

videos by Max Lapoujade

***Setlist, Photos & Video***

Tallest Man’s Setlist:

    Won’t be found
    Honey, Won’t You Let Me In?
    Shallow Grave
    Pistol Dreams
    Over the Hills
    This Wind
    Into the Stream
    The Gardner
    Troubles Will Be Gone
    Where Do My Bluebirds Fly
    Steal tomorrow
    King of Spain
    I Fall to Pieces (Patsy Cline cover)


    Mighty Heart
    I Won’t Be Found

Red Cortez Setlist (although I’m making the names of a few songs up for reference)

    Take thatFell on the Floor –
    Take Away
    Foreign Land
    Fight Song for Desalojos –
    I’m Not Dead
    All Ye People –
    All the Difference –
    Walk Away

Tallest Man on Earth

Red Cortez



  1. Jealous. New York, Shows. Jealous.

  2. Excellent review!

    I was at the TTMOE show in Cambridge, MA and it was absolutely amazing. Like the Bowery, the Brattle was was dead silent too – I’ve rarely been to a show where the audience was so attentive. I can’t wait until he comes through DC (where I’m from) but I wouldn’t hesitate to make long drives to see him again.

    Also, I can’t confirm this, but I’ve been told that the new song you posted a video of is called “A Lion’s Heart”. Again, I don’t know if this was just a random placeholder name that caught on, but I thought I’d mention it.

    Thanks for the video, photos, and set list!


  3. Nice. Seeing him at a tiny venue in London in September; can’t wait to be honest! Bon Iver is fantastic live too.

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