Royal Concert Hall, 24/09/19
In perhaps an unusual venue choice, a host of people stand enthralled before one man and his band for just over two hours. It’s almost a religious experience to watch all of them raising their hands to reach for him as he stretches towards them all. This was what it was like to attend a Hozier concert.
Opening with As It Was, from his newest album, there is a moment where Hozier stands alone, illuminated by a red spotlight and holding his entire audience in his palm before the light lifts and the rest of his band join and the crowd goes wild as the surprisingly rock-heavy set begins.
It’s hard to put into words the sort of performer Hozier is. Famous off the back of his own particular brand of Irish folk, he is possibly best known for his lyricism and songs filled with morbid yet surprisingly tender metaphors and for the sheer soul that drips from his every word. Even without his explicit mention of them in songs such as Jackie and Wilson or Nina Cried Power, it is incredibly evident that he was raised on some of the musical greats and he truly learnt from the best.
There’s a strange sort of contradiction between his powerful vocals combined with the way he bounds around the stage and the softly spoken man that tells us, in optimistic nihilism, that the universe will end and so, we might as well enjoy it. It’s precisely this contradiction that makes him such a powerful performer.
He ends with the showstopper that is Take Me To Church and, while fans scream in delight, it’s the encore that seems to have the most fans. Take Me To Church may have been his first viral hit but, after a double standing ovation from the crowd, it was fan favourites Cherry Wine and Work Song that had fans singing along in a way that he deemed to be “fucking beautiful.”
In truth, Hozier’s unique lyricism, powerhouse vocals and intelligent insights all bond to create something more powerful than you could ever hope to expect. Pair that with some incredible lighting, a wonderfully talented band and a sort of devotion rarely seen from fans and you start to understand exactly what he means when he sings “it’s the heaven of the human spirit ringing.”
[ Rebecca Gault – she/her – @rebeccagault7 ]
[Photo credit: Rebecca gault]