by Dan Radin
A staple of the festival circuit in recent years, Hozier has gotten used to playing massive stages like Austin City Limits Music Festival when he comes to Austin. This time around, Andrew Hozier-Byrne effortlessly delivered an intimate performance that transformed the Moody Theater into ‘The First Church of Hozier’.
The sold-out venue fell under Hozier’s charm as he curated a serenely religious experience. The singer dialed in an even mix between favorites off his debut album, and new tunes from his sophomore effort, Wasteland, Baby!. While it was clear the audience favored familiar songs from earlier in his career, as told by moments like the joyous sing along during “Someone New”, Hozier never lost command of the room. All 8 of Hozier’s band members also contributed to his trademark choral texture as the youth led the service. The even blend of male and female singers and 3 up-front guitars built a full, shimmering wall of sound.
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The new songs were framed well by their back stories. Hozier shared his discovery of a carnivorous bird species, and how he “thought it was an appropriate theme for a love song” as he eased into the Celtic-flavored riff of “Shrike”. The singer further cemented himself as a hopeless romantic before “No Plan”, with a monologue about love and the end of the world. “No matter how bad it gets,” he said, “even if it was the end of the world, there’s so much worse things to look forward to.”
Hozier’s humility shone as the overriding presence throughout the evening. From modestly hinting flashes of his guitar prowess to calmly revealing stories behind his songs, Hozier’s humbleness always struck the right angle. There aren’t many artists who so genuinely introduce their entire band, let alone thanking the entire production team- sound, lights, tour manager, guitar tech and opening act, the supreme Jade Bird. “I want to thank you for giving her the reception she deserves,” Hozier added in his Irish accent.
Bird opened the night with a well-received solo acoustic set. Her raspy high notes on songs like “Lottery” brought a youthful edge that complimented Hozier’s energy to a tee. Bird also drew a line the length of the mezzanine when she made an appearance at the merch booth for “hugs and things.”
The flashiest, yet one of the most revered moments of the night came as Hozier jumped into the pit and joined the front row of the crowd to lead a full hand salute of “Amen” in his radio smash, “Take Me to Church.” He graciously accepted roses from fans before jumping back on stage for the night’s highlight- an acoustic “Cherry Wine” -and then finished out the encore with “Work Song”.
Hozier is a rare modesty in a flashbulb world. It’s easy to see why his fans place him on an altar.
Would That I
Dinner & Diatribes
Nina Cried Power
Jackie and Wilson
To Be Alone
Moment’s Silence (Common Tongue)
Almost (Sweet Music)
Take Me to Church