Hozier + George Ezra: New York - 22 March 2015
Hozier's musical career is reaching new heights and he sold out his biggest yet headlining show at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York.
Andrew Hozier-Byrne has been touring pretty much constantly since the summer in support of his breakthrough self-titled debut album, propelled by lead single "Take Me to Church" (that song with all those "amens"). His current string of US dates climaxed with a show at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, where Hozier humbly thanked everyone in his band, touring crew and the audience for all the work and dedication. The front row was packed with screaming young female fans but the sold-out venue was packed with wild fans of all ages, proof that Hozier has a huge following. In fact, the venue appeared pretty full already before the opener, George Ezra, who is also experiencing a quick-rising music career, even took stage. Ezra explained how he created his debut album Wanted on Voyage while trekking across Europe with a Eurail pass. That story helped explain some of his song titles, like "Barcelona" or for his biggest song, "Budapest". His brief set was very well received by the crowd and he's someone I would check out again (he has a solo headlining tour beginning in April).
But Hozier was the clear star of the night. Each of his songs normally has a powerful resonance to it but, on this night, there seemed to be a new vibrancy to his music. Perhaps it is due to the number of supporting musicians in his band, including his friend, cellist Alana Henderson leaving their own imprint on the material over months of touring. But whatever it was, Hozier's music soared high at the Hammerstein Ballroom, and not just audibly all the way up to the "gods" section. The "amens" in the main set finale "Take me to Church" could have reached the gods themselves. During the encore, Hozier played "Run", a bonus track on a special edition of his debut (that hadn't come out in the US from what I can tell). Aside from "Church" and the beautiful acoustic "Cherry Wine", "Run" was one of the highlights of the evening. Hozier took a left-turn from there though and busted out a cover of Ariana Grande before bringing it back to his bluesy rock sound with the drudgery of "Work Song", a dark hymnal which reverberated even more in the venue as the audience clapped along.
It is crazy that Hozier was playing the much smaller Irving Plaza just five months before this huge show. Fortunately there will be more chances to catch him when he returns to the US in April following a brief Australian tour. There will be some more theater shows for Hozier before he returns to Europe for gigs including a spot at the Foo Fighters show at Slane Castle in his home country, Ireland, an event that will likely be a personal milestone and push his career to new highs.
"Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene"
"Jackie and Wilson"
"To Be Alone"
"It Will Come Back"
"In a Week"
"Illinois Blues" (Skip James)
"Like Real People Do"
"Take Me to Church"
"Problem" (Ariana Grande)