Review by Clare Knight
St. Bartholomew’s Church, Brighton 29/10/12
I had very high expectations for The Tallest Man On Earth (pun only slightly intended) due to watching numerous live videos online as well as hearing from many friends that he is an incredible musician and performer. I can tell you now at the beginning of this review that he definitely delivered! The Swedish songwriter is clearly influenced by legendary songwriters such as Bob Dylan and Paul Simon but there is never a point when watching him live that you feel like he isn’t being original.
Let me just mention the venue for a moment. St. Bartholomew’s is a very grand, very tall church with as you can imagine, very grand reverb! The sound was bouncing around the room and I think it only added to the atmosphere when the audience started clapping or singing along. The support act were Dan Hayward’s New Hawks and if I am honest it did take me a while to get into their set, but by the end I was really enjoying it and appreciating the lyric writing especially. He was not to everyone’s taste but I think that was down to his extremely dry sense of humour (that I imagine they didn’t get) and the fact they had started their set about 45 minutes late. However, I think they won people over by the end of their set which is a credit to them.
When The Tallest Man On Earth came on after some technical problems (which pushed the start time back even more) you could tell he was slightly overwhelmed with the size of the church and the number of people filling it to see him. He launched into his first song without saying a word and at that point I forgot that I was thirsty, hungry, tired and aching after standing in one position for hours. His set consisted of using electric guitar, acoustic guitar and piano and it seemed effortless and smooth.
With no seating and at a guess around 1,000 people packed into the hall it is no wonder than people started fainting. From where I was I know of three people that passed out, two of those times The Tallest Man On Earth stopped his set to make sure they were OK, he then jumped right back into the song where he left off. The set was littered with popular songs like Wind and Walls, King Of Spain and Leading Me Now. He also threw in a cover of Graceland by Paul Simon, which was a nice addition as the set was nearing to a close. He came across as a very humble man and enjoyed being able to see so many faces in the crowd due to the less intense lighting in the church. He also tried his hardest not to swear but gave up in the end!
He came back on for an encore after rapturous applause and played a further three songs for the crowd. It was a lively, energetic and entertaining performance for a solo artist with no band and although my neck is aching from straining to see him through the mass of ironically tall people, it was completely worth it. I can’t recommend seeing The Tallest Man On Earth enough, I just hope next time it is at Union Chapel in Islington so we can have a seat and actually see him on stage!