Irish musician Hozier has clearly been missed over on these American shores. Having only put out four new songs out since his debut album was released in 2015, the man was able to sell out three shows at the Beacon Theater in New York City at the end of September. And for the first night, the audience was on their feet from the get-go and roaring for the man (he has a sizeable female following).
It helps that his new EP is both timely and brilliant. Nina Cried Power starts off with a title song that includes powerhouse Mavis Staples and calls attention to protest songs of bygone eras. As you hear him drop names, songs from those artists immediately come to mind including, the obvious Nina Simone (“Sinnerman”), Patti Smith (“People Have the Power”), John Lennon, James Brown, and more. The other three tracks don’t grab as immediately, but I have played it regularly (“Shrike” might be my second favorite.)
Openers Hudson Taylor are a family troupe (with some other band members) that also hail from Ireland. The group has a warm, inviting sound that can be heard across their 2015 debut and the follow-up, Bear Creek to Dame Street, released just a few days before the NYC gig. Though I hadn’t heard the new album before, a stand-out was “One in a Million”, I enjoyed hearing the positivity of “Old Soul” and their other songs.
But for Hozier, the problem with just having one album and one EP out is that it doesn’t allow for one to build a very long set. I don’t think he pushed more than 75 minutes on stage. And if “Nina” hadn’t been the first song of the night, I had half hoped Staples herself would join him on stage. But it was upon a New York stage that Hozier thought he could truly make a go at music, so it makes sense that his show remained guest-free.
In any case, every track of his has been ingrained in my memory so it was easy to enjoy every minute of the night, especially “Angel of Small Death”, “Take Me to Church”, and the solo, acoustic “Cherry Wine”. There were a few small variations (like an extended “Someone New”) and, more enticingly, there was one new track, “Movement”. The latter proved there was a new album being readying in the wings and audiences have something to look forward to in 2019. And with a new album out, Hozier will have to hit the road again.