Hozier fans old and new exchange conversation over a few pints whilst bustling into the main hall, a large theatre consisting of an upstairs balcony and a lower gallery. As we await his arrival, we’re greeted with his support, an upcoming fellow Irishman by the name of David Keenan. I have to say, he absolutely smashed his set, performing some of his, soon-to-be-hit, singles such as ‘James Dean’ and ‘One More Tune’. He was yet another testament to how bigger acts can lend a helping hand to smaller acts, and help them get on the radar. This was later supported when Hozier urged his fans to give him a listen, stating, “Can we get a round of applause for David Keenan”. He definitely set the atmosphere for the rest of the gig.
A pint later and the moment we had all been waiting for arrived: Hozier took to the stage. One thing I noticed immediately was his natural ability when it came to his guitar playing. I really can’t describe it. The way he used the guitar to support both the melody and percussion of his songs, particularly of note during his first song, ‘As It Was’, was outstanding. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone so in tune with an instrument before.
"It didn’t even seem like an instrument, more like an extension of himself."
Another thing I was extremely impressed by was the way in which his vocals and guitar playing accompanied one another so well. The light finger-picking method that he adopts for a lot of his songs, coupled with various harmonies and vibrato, makes for easy listening. You could easily stick him on shuffle and, before you know it, you’ve listened to his entire discography. Each song I heard was better than the last, and with a setlist of 20 songs I knew I was in for a good time. After his second song, ‘Would That I’, Hozier encouraged people from the crowd to stand, given that It was a seated theatre and, up to this point, everyone had remained seated. Me and my mate disregarded the seating plan and opted to stand as close to the front as possible, managing to catch a few of his songs, most notably ‘Someone New’, before being asked to return to our seats (like the rebels we are). I was happy to have been so close to the front for that song. The layout of the venue meant that we were extremely close to the front, and It was surreal to think that I was just listening to him that morning, and with my own eyes and ears that evening. I did, however, have my ‘Courier’ head switched on, and managed to grab a couple photos before returning to my seat.
While enjoying the gig, albeit from a larger distance, I continued to be in awe of the control he had on the stage. The entire band worked swiftly and effectively, in particular the violinist, who at the end of the gig received an immense round of applause. The lighting team also did a fantastic job on the night. I always think that, whilst the music itself is a massive part of it, the aesthetic appeal of the stage also has an impact on my experience, and they certainly contributed to how much I loved the gig. There were a few moments where I couldn’t help but take a photo, so although my phone doesn’t do it any justice, I hope these images give you an idea of what the spectacle was like.
A couple more crowd favourites I’d like to highlight would be ‘From Eden’ and ‘Take Me To Church’. The slow, melodic swing of ‘From Eden’, accompanied with the heartwarming, juxtaposed lyrics, such as ”I slithered here from Eden just to sit by your door”, left everyone in the crowd feeling emotional, and I’d guess there weren’t many dry eyes in the room. On the contrary, the rhythmic, pounding lyrics of the chorus from ‘Take Me To Church’, as well as the lighter repetitions of “Amen”, left the crowd singing together, waving their hands in the air, which created a very powerful feeling of togetherness.
"That last word, ‘togetherness’, is how I would best describe the gig."
It felt like a community in which all eyes were set on Hozier. The way he presented himself on stage and took control left the crowd in awe of his ability. For anyone lucky enough to grab tickets next time he’s in town, or any other town for that matter, do it. You won't be disappointed.