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The show was sold out. People streamed into the auditorium at the Cape Town International Convention Center (CTICC), brimming with anticipation. The Tallest Man on Earth, more commonly known as Kristian Matsson, was finally performing in Cape Town. As usual, he attracted a great deal of hipsters, sporting their usual alternative dress code. One could even, occasionally, spot a barefooted person in the crowd. The lighting was atmospheric, in hues of red and blue, and there was one empty chair on the stage, anticipating Matsson’s presence.
The audience seemed excited yet subdued – this was not a man who would make your heart race with his upbeat songs. His music typically expressed emotions from the heart. More specifically, the negative kind of emotions such as nostalgia and heartbreak. Did this audience expect a mood of sorrow, an event during which they could publicly cry or feel anguish and not feel ashamed about it?
Matsson presented the audience with a range of his better-known songs with the emotion and skill Capetonians have come to know from his albums and EPs. Dressed in a black long-sleeved shirt and black skinny jeans, his clothing complimented the mood his music was expected to set.
His dialogue with the audience, however, lifted the atmosphere into one of light-hearted entertainment. He responded well to audience members screaming praises such as “I love you man!,” “You are awesome,” and even “I want you!” Walking into the audience, he threw kisses in the directions of the compliments.
Matsson came across as a humble musician with a sense of humor. He apologized for the mood of his music after various songs. Most of his songs have been described as “whiners,” with him doing the “whining.” When he finished playing the popular “Where do my bluebirds fly,” he apologetically said “I’m not angry, I’m not angry at all” and, after a moment’s reflection, said “this song pisses me off too.”
In discussing his new album, he jokingly said that he tried to deal with issues in the album, but that it is “pretty much a whiner too.” The song he followed this comment with, “Sometimes the blues is just a passing bird,” was received with enthusiastic applause. His “whining” was received with definite approval.
Maybe the highlight of the concert was Matsson’s closing song, a tender love song called “Thrown right at me.” For a small part of the song, Amanda Bergman (Matsson’s wife and the singer known as “Idiot Wind”) ran onto the stage to sing a duet with Matsson. This special moment introduced a feeling of hope and optimism to Matsson’s “whining.”
It seems, then, that the Cape Town audience got more than they bargained for at The Tallest Man on Earth’s concert. The music he produced was stirring and beautiful. Yet his interaction with the audience lightened the atmosphere and his duet with his wife introduced an element of warmth, even cuteness, to the event. It is no wonder that passers by saw a crowd of smiling, content people leaving the CTICC after the concert.