Best of the Year: Top 10 Concerts of 2018 by David

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LP performs at the 9:30 Club, one of the best concerts of the year, on March 5, 2018. (Photo by David LaMason)

Editor’s Note: This year, we asked our bloggers to name their Top 10 shows of 2018 or choose their Top 10 photos of the year. We will run them over the course of mid-December as our Best of the Year posts.

As we are nearing 2018’s finale, I have to say that this past year brought with it some of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time. From the big production shows in large theaters to completely packed club shows, there was an intensity to most of the performances this past year that I’ll remember for years to come! Here are my 10 best shows of the year.

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Music Park: Tallest Man On Earth @ Lincoln Theater — 11/9/18

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The Tallest Man On Earth amazes at the Lincoln Theater on Nov. 9, 2018. (Photo by David LaMason)

Kristian Matsson, who goes by the stage name The Tallest Man On Earth, has been creating and performing for more than 10 years. He’s been compared at times to Bob Dylan, but beyond the folk veneer is a growing body of work that is expanding both lyrically and musically. He explored that exceptional at the Lincoln Theatre on Friday.

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Music Park: The Tallest Man On Earth @ Lincoln Theatre — 6/1/15


NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

The Tallest Man on Earth, Kristian Matsson (at a mere 5′ 7″), told the packed Lincoln Theatre, “Thank you. Straight from my heart, I won’t take this for granted.”

Clearly he didn’t. Despite the themes of lost love and melancholy that permeates many of his songs, he is full of energy and charisma in front of the crowd. He stormed the stage and then ran out into the crowd like a rock star. On stage, he was motion and dancing, switching out guitars after almost every song.

Matsson’s favorite pastime involved throwing down his guitar pick after he finished a song, almost in triumph. The stage was littered with small victories.

Born in Sweden, Matsson began with The Tallest Man on Earth stage name as a solo singer-songwriter for his first three albums. His first album, Shallow Grave, released in 2008, has strong roots in America folk music.

As Matsson made clear, “We only have sad songs, except one song.” The Tallest Man on Earth set forth songs of loss, remembrance and restlessness, weaving through sounds inspired by folk and country music.

For the fourth album, Dark Bird is Home, and latest tour, Matsson has added a full band. There is a clear delineation and complexity between the new album’s songs and the stripped down nature of many of the previous songs.

That delineation is never more apparent than the first single, “Sangres”, which almost seems out-of-place, but yet is clearly part of his overarching theme of lost love. It is also a song that showcases his vocal range, which many have likened to Bob Dylan. This song is a good example of why. His voice seemed fuller and less Dylanesque when live, compared to listening to some of his earlier recorded work. I enjoyed both, but found a deeper appreciation when listening to the songs performed live.

For a change of pace, Matsson performed the quiet “Little Nowhere Towns” on an expanded keyboard. For many songs, he performed solo with just his guitar, while the band took a breather.

Just before the break before the encore, Matsson gave the crowd the wistful title track, “Dark Bird is Home”, with the sad but hopeful line, “and suddenly the day gets you down but this is not the end, no this is fine”. And it was.

Matsson ended the night with “Like the Wheel”, a sad, soulful lament that I like to think is about the long journey to find your place on this Earth.

The Tallest Man on Earth proved to be a great live performer and worthy of the 1-1/2 hour, 21 song, musical journey he and his band lead us through.

The Tallest Man On Earth

Don’t Miss: The Tallest Man On Earth @ Lincoln Theatre, 6/1/15

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Kristian Matsson, known as The Tallest Man on Earth, has sold out two shows at the Lincoln Theatre.

The Tallest Man on Earth is touring in support of his fourth album, Dark Bird is Home. After DC, he plays two shows in New York before continuing the tour in Europe through October. If you want to see him in the US, you should look for resale tickets to tonight’s show.

The new tour includes a full band for the first time. Now he can add new instruments to his repertoire, including the French horn, keyboard and viola.

Some have likened his vocal style to Bob Dylan, and I can hear the similarities after a listening to a number of songs off his latest album.

This will be my first live exposure to The Tallest Man on Earth, and look forward to hearing how he sounds in a live setting.

The title track, “Dark Bird is Home” is a melancholy affair about heartbreak, but with hope on the horizon.

 

The Tallest Man on Earth
w/Madisen Ward and The Mama Bear
Lincoln Theatre
Monday, June 1
Doors @6:30pm (Show @8pm)
$35 (Sold Out)
All ages