Kristian Matsson of The Tallest Man on Earth is, in fact, not the tallest man on earth. The petit musician, born and raised in Sweden, made a stop on his U.S. tour at Hope College this past Friday as a part of the Hope College Concert Series fall semester lineup. With no opener and no backing band, Matsson took the stage solo and sold out Dimnent Chapel, a church that seats 1,100 people, all by himself. The folk singer-songwriter played a medley of tunes from the four albums he’s released over the past ten years, as well as new pieces.
Between songs, Matsson charmed the audience with humor that offset his melancholic lyrical content of heartbreak, longing and death. He joked about himself, his crew–namely his guitar tech and best friend, Anna—and even his own music. A humble confidence radiated from Mattson’s lighthearted presence while he guided the audience through a lifetime of emotions in just 90 minutes. Matsson demonstrated a musical proficiency most can only dream of. He seamlessly strummed and pounded at his instruments while running, singing, sitting, dancing and jumping across Dimnent Chapel’s wooden stage. Switching between electric and acoustic guitars, piano and banjo, Matsson both entertained and astounded the audience with his dynamic presence that captivated over 1,000 people into silence during the entirety of his performance.
The artist’s boundless energy was fueled by a bright and intricate light show, designed and operated by artist Anders Herberling. Wooden boxes with slits on the sides were illuminated with colored lights that chased Matsson across the stage in synchronization with his music. During one of The Tallest Man on Earth’s most well known songs, “The Gardener,” Herberling set the glow low during the last verse of the piece. With each powerful strum of Mattson’s guitar, lights exploded across Dimnent’s stained glass as if Matsson was controlling them with his instrument, surprising and stunning spectators.
The Tallest Man on Earth’s headlining show was raw, emotional, humorous and reflective. The organic instrumentation of Matsson’s gritty folk voice accompanied by the guitar, piano and banjo swirled through Dimnent Chapel’s packed pews with grace, power and thoughtfulness. Matsson’s energy, guided with a detailed light show, gave Hope and Holland a performance they won’t forget for a long time to come.
Don’t miss Hope College Concert Series’ remaining shows this December at Park Theatre. On Dec. 1, indie rock band Post Animal will be headlining with special guest Major Murphey. On Dec. 7, the last day of classes, U.K. band The Japanese House will finish out the season with their dream pop tunes. Tickets are available online or at the Hope ticket office.