Hozier's back to back, sold-out nights at Irving Plaza, proved to the audience that the Irish singer-songwriter's recent buzz, post-SNL, is well deserved.
Andrew Hozier-Byrne's final show of his 2014 US tour was the second of two sold-out nights at Irving Plaza in New York. The singer-songwriter is experiencing an exponential rise in popularity following a much buzzed about performance on Saturday Night Live of his breakthrough hit "Take Me to Church". While his current shows had sold out well before that Studio 8H visit in the 30 Rock building, that performance helped Hozier sell out much of his 2015 US tour in larger theaters though. Plus the folks at NBC liked Hozier enough to invite him back to 30 Rock for a taping of Late Night with Seth Meyers before this Thursday night performance.
In 2015, the Irish singer-songwriter will have Icelandic musician Ásgeir opening for him on many dates, but on this night he had British singer James Bay (who had opened for Ásgeir earlier this year) join him. Bay's hat is an icon that is the cover of his EP releases and of course he wore it on this night. The guitarist was a good fit as Bay too dabbles in American blues and folk and, along with one other person playing keyboard and percussion, he gave the packed crowd a good show, concluding his set with "Hold Back the River", a soon to be big song that I've repeatedly listened to since (a video is below).
Hozier's resonant voice filled the room not long after, drifting through the whispery song, "Like Real People Do" as the packed crowd, including the many ladies at the front of the stage, greeted him with loud cheers. He followed up with the powerful "Angel of Small Death" which sounded as like a dark blues song from a bygone epoch and his powerful voice reached even the back recesses of the venue without much effort. Hozier's haunting gospel is not like much else that can be heard on modern radio these days and those themes reverberate throughout much of his debut, self-titled album and it was only this year, at a NYC gig when he thought he "could make money" through music.
The music continued with a cover of Skip James's "Illinois Blues" and then his own "Cherry Wine" both solo before cellist Alana Henderson joined him on stage for the duet "In a Week". It was all leading up to a powerful finale of "Take me to Church" that stunned the audience. Of course, Hozier returned for a couple more songs, the first being a cover of Amerie's "One Thing" which was an interesting choice but then he ended with "For Eden" one of the most-outstanding tracks on his outstanding and oftentimes divine album.
I had hoped he would perform "Run", a bonus track that appears on deluxe versions of his album, but I will hope to hear that one next go around. I enjoyed his whole show anyways, (save for some concern directed toward a medical situation near the merch table but the security guards and EMTs were handling that). Hozier's huge rise in 2014 will likely be exceeded by what the gains he makes in 2015. His album wasn't even out till October (it hit #2 on a Billboard chart) and he had sold out the 2014 tour dates. Given the number of sold out shows in 2015, many other people are looking forward to seeing Hozier, for the first or second or third time, including possibly his celebrity fans like Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift and he will surely not disappoint.
Like Real People Do
Angel of Small Death & The Codeine Scene
Jackie and Wilson
To Be Alone
It Will Come Back
Illinois Blues (Skip James)
In a Week
Take Me to Church
One Thing (Amerie)