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It seems Newport has a sweet spot for the Swedish. Folk duo First Aid Kit delicately sang on Saturday and folk singer The Tallest Man on Earth performed this Sunday to close out Newport Folk Festival’s Harbor stage for the weekend. The Tallest Man on Earth, whose real name is Kristian Matsson, is actually not that tall. What he lacks in said height, he makes up for with Dylan vocals and an intruiging stage presence.
Dressed in a simple tank top, black jeans, and boots, Matsson would pulse around the stage as he sang; it looked like he was trying to sneak up on someone – except that, you know, all eyes were on him. His legs would bend and then slowly lower back down, even if he was standing in one spot, making him look like a flamingo for perching a foot on his knee or stretching them out very slowly.
Nothing was surprising about the amount of love Matsson got at Newport Folk Festival. The Tallest Man on Earth has been on the rise ever since Shallow Grave came out in 2008, and with his newest album, There’s No Leaving Now, coming out about a month ago, the reason for infatuation with the singer-songwriter had been refreshed and revived in everyone’s minds. The crowd took this as their cue to cheer louder than any other crowd at Newport that day. If the audience were filled with more women instead of the equal ratio it was, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to say it was like The Beatles were about to walk onstage in the ’60s with all that noise.
Highlights included a stinging “Love Is All” (which received the loudest cheering out of all of the songs played), WERS favorite “1904″, and “I Won’t Be Found”. Fans would squeal quietly to themselves in the middle of songs, excited they were seeing Matsson live as well as songs they hold dear.
My favorite moment was catching “The Gardener” in the rain. There’s something about hearing his Dylan-like voice sing a bittersweet track while your hair slowly becomes damp. The audience began clapping during the miniature guitar solo and later sang the closing line, “in your eyes babe,” when Matsson paused, encouraging everyone to wrap it up together. Wet weather only rose The Tallest Man on Earth’s performance on the Harbor stage and gave listeners a new memory to smile back on when listening to his music in the future: a comforting ending to a remarkable weekend of music.