With 156 million plus views and his hit Take Me To Church – Andrew Byrne, better known as Hozier, is on top of the musical mountain.
Tonight Brisbane’s Riverstage venue was full to the gunwales with trending boho girls and my fellow Brisbane scenesters as people converged on the Brisbane River coming together as one; beard to beard, hipster to hipster; all trying to catch a glimpse of Ireland’s biggest musical export since The Script.
Artist Rhodes, also from Ireland, made waves in the sea of people with a powerful support set. Rhodes has found the perfect balance between strength and delicacy which is arrayed through his powerful voice yet subtle tone. Having listened to his songs previously, I can tell you now that the live version was exceptional. He comfortably owned the stage impressive for being a newcomer to the spotlight.
As Hozier took that first step out, dressed in his trusty denim, the crowd instantly gravitated towards the stage. The first guitar strum of Like Real People Do was a signal which brought the rise of iPhones to the night sky, with thousands of eager fans keen to share the talent that was before them. With the rainclouds brewing above, down below in the crowd a mesmerising performance took Brisbanites by storm as the Irish singer captured the night. Hozier kept us in anticipation as he hinted that a cover was to be played, or as he calls is it his, “Fun Song”. We were delighted to hear that this was in fact Blackbird but with a modern spin – the Beatles would have been proud.
Another highlight came in the form of the silvery duet, In A Week. Singer Karen Cowley with her sweetly haunting voice is a great match to Hozier’s sound – and the two in tandem were utterly captivating. Those who own the album may have already heard her earthy yet delicate melodies being featured on the track. Before singing the pair talk about the songs meaning, joking how the inspiration for the track was Wicklow Hills – Hozier’s hometown – saying that, “Anytime you hear Wicklow Hills, it’s usually before or after the words ‘a body was found.’” Before the crowd could finish their laughter they were hypnotized into a trance by the vocal harmony.
Hozier’s unfeigned, authentic set outshone the visual accompaniment provided by both event organisers and Mother Nature’s intervention. With many artists these days trying to quite literally, ‘take the audience’s breath away’ with the heavy use of strobes yet this very modest and raw setting really impacted the crowd on a more heart-felt level, each song telling a story. Take Me To Church brought the house down, even my generation ceased in their ‘selfie‘ taking.
In the moments of silence before the chorus you could feel the buzz being passed through Riverstage, the whole crowd sung along, and it felt like we were all apart of something greater. Then unfortunately, through the messy shag cuts and asymmetric side-swept bangs I saw Hozier walk off the stage. It felt like the whole of Brisbane was in uproar as we cried for an encore, and low and behold the flannel greeted us again. This time he came with a very cool cover of Ariana Grande’s Problem, so cool that my previously held impartiality was unexpectedly swayed.
The album Live From America, including the hit single Take Me To Church is out now, however my bias may lie with the aptly named From Eden as the standout track. Hozier is currently touring from Amsterdam to Istanbul and everywhere in between, with stops in Paris, Berlin and of course Dublin. However we can’t wait for the Hozier rain to once again land on our shores.