I’ve written about The Tallest Man on Earth before. Mostly as the best example there is about how Spotify should be embraced by musicians rather than shunned. Briefly stated, if it wasn’t for hearing one of his songs on satellite radio a couple of years ago and then going home that last night and exploring his music catalog on Spotify, I would have never heard of him, never listened to his songs thousands of times. And most definitely would not have bought a couple of $50 tickets to see him at the Greek Theater in Berkeley last night.
(Side note: The man’s name is Kristian Matsson and he is from Sweden. Look him up on Wikipedia. He’s a bit of a character. And a talented songwriter and musician.)
I enjoyed the show but there was something missing for me. Most of Matsson’s recorded music has the sound to me of a singer and his guitar or a singer and his piano and not much more. This is the kind of music that appeals to me these days. It’s the kind of show I wanted to see and I didn’t get it. For all but a couple of his songs last night, Matsson had the full band behind him — drummer, a couple of guitars, a keyboard, a violin.
He alluded to this a couple of times and I could tell he would have preferred a more intimate kind of show. Matsson is one of these singer/guitar players who uses a different guitar for each song. At one point, as he strapped a different guitar around his neck, he commented that when you are the opening act, you’re not supposed to bring your quietest guitar. In other words, his job opening for The Head and the Heart was to get the audience revved up.
Then, as he announced he had two songs left to play, he said that he’d like to come back some day and play his sad songs. And that’s what I knew was missing. He really didn’t play the songs I like the most. And, yes, they’re the sad ones. The are the quiet ones. The intimate ones. The ones you don’t play before a sellout crowd of 8,000 if you want to rev the crowd up.
So, he proceeded to do his job with the next song. It was this …
Obviously, that video isn’t from last night, and it’s much more subdued then what he and his band did last night. He just absolutely went off with this song. And it was good.
But for the sad songs, it was well worth it. I just hope he does get to come back to Northern California one day and play his own kind of set.
The good news is that he closed with one of those sad songs. Performed in much the way it is in this video. His band put their instruments down and provided the background harmonies as he finished his set with Like the Wheel.
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A couple of side notes…
- As I mentioned, he opened for The Head and the Heart — a band I’m heard enough of to know many of their popular songs and a few others thanks to Spotify. They aren’t necessarily high on my list of favored groups though. They put on a good show as well, but about half way through I leaned over to my wife and said “the songs are good, but every single one sounds the same.” They have a very consistent sound and style of presenting their songs that got a bit boring for me.
- I want to know how the proceeds of ticket sales and everything else gets broken up between the venue and the performers. The tickets were $45 each. The venue seats 8,000 and it was full. That means $360,000 was generated from about 2 1/2 hours of music. Plus the food and drink sales of unknown amount. What’s the cut for the opening act? What’s the cut for the headliner? For the venue? No matter the cut it seems a pretty good living for the acts that can pull in crowds like that.
- Another peek into how my brain works. About 2/3 of the way through The Head and the Heart’s set, my wife leaned over to me. “The guy sitting next to me looks like he hates this music.” I leaned forward and looked over. Sitting next to her was a man sitting absolutely rock solid still. Not moving a muscle. And his face was the same. Just solid. And not happy. He had a dark complexion. … He’s a terrorist and he’s about to set off a bomb and obliterate us all. I looked back. There was a young woman with her head on his shoulder and enjoying the music. She was happy. I tried to let it go. The rational side of my brain knew I was being ridiculous. But still … he looked so angry sitting there. When they left just before the last song of the encore, I looked over to confirm they didn’t leave anything behind. Sometimes I hate the way my brain works.
- Our first attempt at using Uber … a complete and total failure!