A side-by-side comparison of my first and most recent Hozier concert. I saw him at a festival in 2015 and again during his headlining tour in 2019.
A side-by-side comparison of my first and most recent Hozier concert. I saw him at a festival in 2015 and again during his headlining tour in 2019.
Kaylee Rodriquez

“Wasteland, Baby!” Concert Review

An Inside Look at the Evolution of Indie Rock Artist Hozier’s Performances From 2015 Compared to Now

The whole room stands still, and for just a moment, everything goes silent. The bass drops, the band starts up again and the crowd sings in perfect unison as loud as they would listening to the song by themselves in their bedroom. It is a powerful and humbling moment when the singer takes a step back and grins as the whole room takes over in singing the song. This was the same feeling I felt during Hozier’s “Take Me to Church” at South Side Ballroom on March 29 and four years prior on April 25, 2015 at Edgefest. This time, however, he has released another studio album as well as having obviously matured in his performing and style.

The first time I saw indie rock performer Hozier live was during a music festival in April of 2015. This was just a few months after the Irish singer’s song “Take Me to Church” peaked at #2 on Billboard’s Top 10 Hits. Originally released in 2013 during a rough time in the struggling musician’s life, the song went viral in multiple countries- after the release of its controversial music video- before catching the attention of American record labels.

Seeing Hozier at Edgefest was very different compared to now. Edgefest hosted well over 40,000 people in a giant arena, and South Side Ballroom was a much more intimate venue with less than 4,000 people in attendance. At an event like Edgefest, the artist doesn’t quite have the audience’s full attention. People attending a festival aren’t necessarily there for the same bands and are walking around, talking and worrying about what time their favorite band comes on during other artists’ performances. At a headlining show, however, everyone is there for the same reason. It is a more personal experience. There is a much different vibe when seeing an artist perform at a festival versus a headlining show.

His most recent album, Wasteland, Baby!, Hozier presents a mixture of powerful rock anthems, soft, chill melodies and catchy tunes. His headlining show had a perfect balance of all of these elements. British indie rock artist Jade Bird opened the show with several of her folksy rock songs. Hozier and his band kicked off their set with a power ballad about past romances called “Would That I” before diving into “Dinner and Diatribes,” a more relaxed, yet strongly vocalized song about prefering to disengage from social activities and his first single from the album, “Nina Cried Power,” a masterpiece inspired by past artists who have used their music as a form of activism in various situations throughout history. Thrown into the mix of his new songs, Hozier included his older works such as “Jackie and Wilson” and “From Eden.” Hozier continues with his newer material in a softer atmosphere presenting the titular song “Wasteland, Baby!” which highlights how love can be a metaphor for an apocalypse  followed by “Shrike,” a darker, more sinister look at love. “To Be Alone,” another older song of his, was given a more bluesy rendition for the concert followed by the catchy new songs, “Nobody” and “Moment’s Silence (Common Tongue).” Hozier keeps the upbeat pace going with crowd participation in “Almost (Sweet Music)” but slows it down for the last new song he plays for the night, “Movement.” The show ends on a nostalgic note as he plays the song everyone knows him for, “Take Me to Church.” Hozier stops singing several times throughout the song as the beautiful harmonies of over 3,500 people fill the room. After a quick break, Hozier and his band performs an encore with fan favorite mellow tunes called “Cherry Wine” and “Work Song.”

My favorite part of the concert, however, had nothing to do with any of the songs he played. Following the encore, as most artists do, Hozier takes the time to introduce his band members. Hozier takes this a step further and acknowledges every single crew member by name from the roadies, to the light and sound techs and even the guy who handles his guitars throughout the show. He also made a point to encourage the entire crowd to sing “Happy Birthday” to an audience member. He is obviously a very personal artist and even explained his thought process behind each of his songs before he played them. Overall, by watching interviews on YouTube and observing his mannerisms in person, Hozier seems like an extremely genuine artist who not only cares about his music but also cares a great deal about his fans and everyone who has a hand in making his career as successful as it is. He put on an amazing performance, and I highly recommend seeing his show in person.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

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