Irish singer and songwriter, Hozier, enchanted a sold-out crowd at the Marquee Theater in Tempe on October 14 with powerful vocals and an authentic stage presence.
Hozier took the stage promptly after support act, Hudson Taylor, ended its set. Hozier, accompanied by his seven-piece band, set the tone for the concert with dramatic lightning and a popular song to open the show (“Like Real People Do”). The set featured no decor and the stage was full with musicians and a range of instruments from the violin to back up singers and keyboards. Interesting set decor was not missed with the creative use of lighting to change the colors of the backdrop, backlight the performers and create various lights and shadows across the audience.
Hozier was simply charming live. His voice was butter-smooth. He sounded every bit as good as his recorded album, if not better. He performed for the sold-out crowd while still engaging with the audience and flashing his pearly grin the entire evening. A highlight of his performance was when the entire band left the stage and Hozier performed “Cherry Wine” to the audience. It was incredibly intimate and the song was performed beautifully. “Someone New” was also a stand-out performance with its jazzy spin on the popular song.
Hozier left nothing to be desired by playing all of his most popular tracks from his first album while also treating the audience to a performance of an unreleased song that will appear in his upcoming album. The song, “Movement,” has a deep, sultry vibe that mimics an R&B style of track while still staying true to Hozier’s staple passionate folk sound.
The craftsmanship of all the musicians was showcased, and the audience fed off the energy and positivity of all the performers. The crowd was mainly mid-twenties and older. Many people brought their significant others due to the romantic nature of Hozier’s songwriting.
The technicians unsuccessfully faked out the audience, arbitrarily cleaning up the set when Hozier finished arguably his most popular song “Take Me to Church” and the performers left the stage. The crowd didn’t believe the abrupt ending to the show and screamed rather deafeningly for just one more song. The band delivered.
Hozier took the stage again to perform a cover of Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name.” The choice to do a cover was whimsical, but the band looked like it was having a blast as if it was having a jam session in its home. They finished the encore with “Work Song,” but not before Hozier thanked both his incredibly talented band as well as all of his traveling technicians from his sound technician to stage manager.
Not only is Hozier an incredibly gifted vocalist, he seems to be a sincere and gracious musician. He thanked his Tempe audience dearly saying “it’s not every night we get an audience like you guys, so thank you so much.” His skill and kindness made his music not only audibly very enjoyable, but his performance truly made his listeners feel good. Hozier remarked that he will be releasing a new album in early 2019. A new album release would be coming off a four year long hiatus from his first full-length album. Based on the reactions to Hozier’s performance on Sunday, the Tempe audience will be begging for him to return soon.
Opening the show was Irish folk duo Hudson Taylor. The band was a great pairing with Hozier for this show. Their folk sound intertwined with a groovy, sing-along style helped to boost the energy of the Sunday evening. The brothers were joined by five other talented instrumentalists. They even taught the audience some of the lyrics to their song “Don’t Know Why.” The crowd particularly loved this song when the lead singer’s sister Holly was featured for a couple verses with her effortless and raw vocals.
The harmonies across the seven performers were simply spot on. The band’s newest album Bear Creek to Dame Street was released September 21. Their folk sound ranges from slower, easy listening music to more exciting songs like another fan favorite, “Battles.” Someone who is a fan of Mumford and Sons, Vance Joy and NEEDTOBREATHE might enjoy Hudson Taylor.