Friday 1st March, 2013 @ Chevron Festival Gardens.
Review by Amy Mowle
It was a temperate and balmy evening. Strings of make-shift fairy lights shed their warm glow onto the crowd gathering below. It was the perfect combination for those waiting to see THE TALLEST MAN ON EARTH when he played the Perth International Arts Festival on Friday night. The breathtaking environment of the (questionably named) Chevron Festival Gardens sported an impressive crowd to welcome the Swedish native Kristian Matsson to Perth’s shores for the second time.
The first surprise of the evening came in the form of the explosively visceral performance from Brooklyn-based duo BUKE AND GASE. Their name derives from the instruments they play – a modified six string baritone ukelele (the ‘buke’) and a frankenstein-esque mash-up of a bass and a guitar (the ‘gase’). Very clever indeed. Carefully crafted into a haunting pure-noise exploit with the help of numerous effects pedals, weird homemade inventions, amplifiers and a platter of foot-percussion, the sound that this duo produced was nothing short of phenomenal. An interesting choice for a supporting band considering the musical content of the headlining act, but nonetheless an experience in itself.
Buke and Gase had left the stage and the crowd began to thin out, filtering through the crack in the curtain in search of a nice cold brew. Naturally, it wasn’t long before the stage area was yet again at capacity – many audience members stocked up with pint cups in paper trays in order to not have to leave their hotly contested spots until the very end. It was time for the main act.
Matsson entered the stage and waltzed straight up to the audience, darted from one side to the other as if he was checking out what he was up against, and swiftly collected his guitar from the techie. Matsson’s performance of ‘King of Spain’ opened the set with such high energy that almost instantaneously good vibrations began to buzz and hum through the crowd. He danced and darted around the stage with a charismatic flair that few can harness, let alone pull off.
After an introduction and a thank you to the audience Matsson traded his guitar for an electric and soothed the audience with a blissful performance of ‘Love is All’. With this Matsson showed off his undeniable talent as a natural folk songwriter and a masterful guitar player. Although deserved, the reception he received was quite overwhelming – almost as though it were Jesus with a guitar up there and not a young man from the Swedish countryside.
The songs were played against a backdrop of smoke spiraling and twisting through beams of green, blue and red light. By the eighth song and numerous instrument changes Matsson donned a hollow body electric and crooned through his popular track ‘Where Do My Bluebird Fly’. The audience, in particular the female members, silently swooned at this tragic ballad and there were certainly a few teary eyes scattered throughout the crowd.
Matsson closed his set with ‘Revelation Blues’ only to be cheered back on stage for a two song encore. The night ended with a beautiful homage to Paul Simon leaving a sweet taste for more in the mouths of the audience.