Hozier

I still don’t know if Hozier is pronounced in the Rick Moranis Canadian “Hey hoser” way or with more of a Gotye (“Ho-zee-ay”) type thing going on. Either way, the artist’s music is and should be the focus as the grand, epic ballads brought forth by Hozier are deep and moving, leaving audience members short of breath after each performance.

If you’ve listened to KCRW at any point in the past few months, it’s almost impossible that you could have missed Hozier’s single “Take Me To Church” featuring a warm repetition of “Amen” throughout. The chorus raises hairs with a rich and haunting melody and texture. The song itself sounds as though it could have made its way onto Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road had it been released 40 years ago.

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Hailing from Bray, County Wicklow in Ireland, the only-24-years-old Andrew Hozier-Byrne has a soul and sound beyond his years. The feeling he produces through his guitar while strutting through his bluesy tracks hits you right in the gut. And with a four-piece band backing him, his songs reach levels that both lift up and break down the emotions of the listener.

With only two EP releases, Hozier has already made quite a splash, touring internationally and even selling out The Troubadour last night. I was lucky enough to be in that packed and expectant crowd where it seemed as though everyone was waiting to hear “Take Me To Church” the entire set, which they were. That’s not to say the crowd didn’t love the rest of the show, but the audience participation definitely reached its peak during that song.

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Hozier live consisted of drums, cello, keys, one guy playing bass and synth, and Hozier-Byrne on guitar and vocals. They have released a total of eight songs between the two EPs (both of which were released in 2014), and the members played amazingly well together considering that the group is still in its infancy.

I only noticed one miscue on stage, which occurred when they covered Amerie’s “1 Thing.” The band didn’t seem to know exactly how to end the song, with the members all looking at each other and laughing while nailing one last note. They also covered Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” with a slow and sexy groove behind it, the cello warming the song’s foundation.

A few songs into the set, the backing band took a break, leaving Hozier-Byrne alone on stage to perform a few songs solo and acoustic. While his voice, guitar playing, and songwriting are more than impressive, I feel like there is always a bit of a lull when just one person is on stage. After a few songs, though, the cellist joined him again to sing harmony on an eerie and dark love song about going into the woods with a lover and dying together, only to have their bodies found a week later. It is a beautiful song, but might have been a bit much for a Tuesday night in LA.

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I really can’t recommend Hozier enough. “Take Me To Church” is an amazing song and represents the band’s overall sound very well. If you happen to be into vinyl, Hozier should be a part of your collection. Catch the band next in LA when they appropriately play The Cathedral Sanctuary at Immanuel Presbyterian on October 16th. Don’t go in expecting an entirely rock or acoustic show — just something good and moving. Check them out now!

Hozier Tour Dates:

09/30 – Nashville, TN – Exit In
10/01 – Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse
10/03 – Austin, TX – Austin City Limits Festival
10/04 – Dallas, TX – The Kessler
10/09 – Houston, TX – Warehouse Live
10/10 – Austin, TX – Austin City Limits Festival
10/16 – Los Angeles, CA – The Cathedral Sanctuary at Immanuel Presbyterian Church
10/17 – San Francisco, CA – Regency Ballroom
10/19 – Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom
10/20 – Vancouver, BC – Commodore Ballroom
10/21 – Seattle, WA – The Showbox
10/24 – Boulder, CO – Fox Theatre
10/26 – Chicago, IL – Metro
10/28 – Toronto, ON – Phoenix Concert Theatre
10/29 – Montreal, QC – Virgin Mobile Corona Theatre
10/31 – Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club
11/01 – Philadelphia, PA – The Trocadero Theatre
11/04 – Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
11/05 – New York, NY – Irving Plaza

For more info:

Hozier